Chapter One - Public Bookshelf

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The night air carries with it the gentle scents of jasmine and lavender and the stars hang
low and bright in the sky twinkling above me - a constant in an ever-changing world. I am urged
now to write this account of my life, of my death, and of my rebirth. Why, may you ask? What
have I to tell you, my eager readers? What jewels of wisdom can I offer? All I have is the
account of my life and what I have learned about humanity these past 600 years.
My name is Bree, and I am a vampire. I feed off the living and I live among the undead
children I have created. This is my story - my tale - my legacy. Like it, hopefully you will. Enjoy
it, you will. Learn from it, you must. This is the legacy that I leave, believe it or don’t, it matters
very little to me. Think me a fictional character if it helps you sleep at night. Lock your windows
and your doors. Wear your crucifixes and fill your vials with holy water, it will not help. The
cool night air may just bring my kind your way and there is no protecting yourself.
Chapter One
Like all great tales told throughout time, my story needs to be told where it begins… in
the beginning.
There I stood on that cold morning, glaring at the colossal oak door of the convent; it’s
golden adornments of Saint’s Peter and Paul showing me the way into the mystery of cloistered
life. I was only sixteen. In this day and age I would’ve been considered a fledging, not yet ready
to depart from my family, but because of the times and the hardships that spread across the land
like wildfires consuming everything they touched, I had been forced to mature beyond my
juvenile youth. I had been forced to make a decision no child would’ve ever been forced to make
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Droplets of icy rainfall had been falling delicately on my face that day, masking the tears
of mixed joy and apprehension that were gracing my rosy cheeks. But even as the rain fell, the
sky looked as if it were on fire with the Holy Spirit as the sun began to slip away, disappearing
behind the solemn pine trees which lined the cobble stone path that led to the convent’s outer
I remember my cape dragging on the mud-laden path; the extravagant hem near ruin with
caked mud. My Sunday dress, with its midnight-blue velvet skirting, nearly soaked with rain and
the periwinkle bodice tightly bound to my blossoming bosom. My golden curls were casually
falling out of the loose bun my nursemaid had placed them in earlier that morning. They too
were wet… my golden curls; soaked and saturated with icy aqua droplets. They drooped from
the weight of the rain, heavy and cumbersome - like my convictions.
I had journeyed to Our Lady of the Woods convent to begin my religious life as a
postulant, surrendering my life to the Lord. I had felt the calling from a young age but had
chosen to ignore it. It had been beneath my station. There had been better things in store for me.
But now, all that had changed. I could no longer keep quiet the voice that called to me in the
night. It was his voice – the voice of God. My vocation was to live as a symbol of an undivided
union in the Church as Bride to the Lord.
I longed to fix my cobalt eyes upon the Lord and all that was holy and just! I wanted to
become one with Christ and become a living memory of the Church’s spousal love and all my
dreams were about to become reality. All I had to do was knock upon the door. I had traveled
with only a few meager processions; my satchel contained only enough money to aid me on my
journey and a picture of my beloved family held in a tiny gilded gold frame. I hid the frame in
my bodice so it would not be seized from my person when I entered the convent to live for the
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remainder of my life as a Bride of Christ. With this, I went forth through the first gate and
approached the enclosure door.
I lightly tapped upon the door signaling that I wished to enter the convent and begin life
as a postulant in Christ, to be bound forever to Him in love. After a few minutes spent in
reflective silence, a plump woman, clad in a brown and black habit, answered my knocking. She
stood there somber yet radiating with a deep love that emanated from her creating a sense of
peace and hope.
“What is it that your heart desires, my child?” she asked.
“I desire to begin the time of discernment,” I answered.
I had already known the words that would allow me to gain entrance into the cloister for
my nursemaid had informed me of the procedure before I had left. The words came forth and
flowed from my mouth as smoothly as silk.
After a few glances up and down my person the Mother Abbess responded with all the
love of Christ’s joy.
“Enter into the joy of the Lord and may you bee with us always,” she said smiling
I was then welcomed into the chapel by the Community and accepted into the fold
without question or hesitation. In these times, the years plagued by the Black Death, the Holy
Catholic Church could use all the able bodies and minds willing to help care for the infirmed and
so, I was joyfully accepted
. It was in the chapel where I received my postulant veil and a medal depicting the image
of St. Francis; the metal linking me to this specific order of Franciscan nuns. I felt the love of
Christ surround me as I was welcomed into His family, and so began a new chapter in my life.
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My first year living with the nuns, concealed with Christ in God, was a time of spiritual
growth and earthly lamenting. I learned the monastic lifestyle and the tight schedule the religious
adhered to. I was not accustomed to rising before the sun and I pursued to meet each morning
with a groan as a way to protest the custom. My protests were useless of course; the nuns never
gave in to my whining.
Every morning I was awoken at 5:30 a.m. and was expected to take part in morning
prayers. Of course, one of my charges was to put out the necessary items for Mother Superior to
use during the day and all of this was to be accomplished before the morning prayers. Needless
to say, I would more often than not go about this chore half asleep fighting my droopy eyelids
just trying to stay awake. It took a few months to grow accustomed to waking before the blessed
sun and many mornings I had been nudged awake as I drifted in and out of sleep during ‘amens.’
Meal times were another frustration I had to grow to love. Spoiled in my former life, I
had been accustomed to having my breakfast served shortly after waking or when I rang for it. It
was a scandalous shock to learn that breakfast was served three hours after waking. So, for over
six months, until I grew accustomed to the late breakfast hour, my stomach would groan in
The rest of my days were spent tending to my other charges of working the garden,
cleaning, assisting with the ailing and dying, and giving thanks to God through prayer and
reverent silence.
There was one day, about a month before the one-year anniversary of my taking the
postulant vows when Mother Superior had knelt by my side while I scrubbed feircely at the
soiled chapel floor. An appearance of love and peaceful grace shrouded her face and I felt the
love of Christ radiate from her just as rays of precious golden light radiate from the sun.
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She had placed her firm hand on my shoulder; it was heavy with wisdom yet softened
with her many acts of tender compassion. “I need to speak with you during your free hour. I will
be waiting in my office. Pray, my child, pray for discernment in times to come.”
I continued to scrub the marble floor not revealing that I noticed her departing the chapel;
her long, earthy-brown habit swishing against the stone floor as she moved from my sight. Sweat
beaded my forehead and my hands were aching from gripping the dripping mop-rag. I made
haste, finishing the floor and then filled the baptismal font with the sacred Holy Water Father
Shannon had blessed earlier that morning. I dusted the worn pews in which we professed our
daily adoration and then quietly made for Mother Superior’s inner office.
Postulant Olivia met me at the door to the outer chamber and handed into my possession
a folded yellow paper.
“Mother wishes for you to read this letter before entering the inner office.” Her eyes were
filled with curiosity. She knew all to well that she was my only confidant and that I would
confess every detail as soon as I had the chance.
“Thank you Olivia, you must go now. Finish you duties and we will speak of this when
we are allowed our free hour. Meet me under the weeping willow in the courtyard.”
She flashed me a wicked smile; not the type of smile one would expect from a future
Bride of Christ, but nonetheless, a smile that was all her own.
I made for a darkly stained chair in the corner of the room so that I could read the letter.
All these thoughts were racing their way through my adolescent mind. Had I offended
Mother Superior? Was there distressing news about my family?
To my astonishment the letter contained only one simple command, one tiny yet coded
request. Penned in black ink and smudged in several places it read for my eyes only, “Lay
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prostrate on this floor, under the image of our Christ, and pray for His divine guidance.”
What could I have done? What could I have said? The questions flooded my mind as I
prostrated my self before the image of the Savior. I laid there in silent prayer and remembrance
for what seemed like an eternity. I arose only after being filled with passionate peace and
immaculate love, the tears rolling uncontrollably down my cheeks. It was then, after she heard
my muffled sobbing that she came for me from her inner office and placed her steady hand on
my humble shoulder once more as she helped me from the floor. I was guided into her office and
seated on a chair of golden velvet and handed an unadorned white handkerchief to blot my tear
stricken eyes.
She moved quickly, seating herself at a meager oak desk, before I could scan the room in
which I now sat. Never before had I been given the privilege of seeing her inner office and I felt
unworthy. She seemed rather demure compared to the colossal wooden crucifix that graced the
eggshell colored wall behind her. A painting of the Pope adorned the far left wall and on the
right, a painting of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Postulant Annice, your time has come. The year of your postulancy is soon ending. Do
you plan on continuing your journey to the altar of the Bridegroom or do you intend on returning
to the external world? I do hope that this decision has weighted heavily on your heart this past
year and that the answer for which you are asked to give is the calling that Our Lord has destined
for you,” she stated.
I sat stunned. It had never occurred to me that my postulant year was soon to be ending.
Where had the time gone? I was now so accustomed to the religious life that I would’ve
sworn it had always been so. But now I was being offered a choice to continue with Him and be
forever bound to His Love or to leave this place of quiet reflection and eternal peace for a world
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of uncertainty and earthly pleasures.
“Must I give my answer at this hour, Mother Superior?" My head hung low with shame.
How could I doubt my calling? What could she be thinking of my intentions? I couldn’t look her
in the eyes; the eyes that radiated with circumspection.
Her voice came and fell on me as she reached for my quivering hand, “Do not fear your
true calling, my child. Make haste to your cell and rest there for the night undisturbed. Consider
the question you are being faced with. Weight it heavily on your mind and pray for His divine
love and guidance in this matter. He will show you the path you must take.”
She showed me to the door giving me a reassuring hug. In her own way, I knew she was
letting me know she had been there too, a long time ago, and that she too knew the heavy burden
that now lay at my feet.
I paced in my cell that night, unable to sleep and full of questions and uncertainty. I had
indeed felt the calling to continue my life as Christ’s bride but I doubted His intentions. Who was
I though to doubt the Lord’s intentions for my life? Only He could know the path on which I was
to travel. Only He knew my true destiny and potential.
So with unshaken uncertainty, I laid it all at His feet as I had been taught to do. All my
worries and personal ambitions lay prostrate at His holy feet. I layed on the floor in my
immaculate cell where I, as a future bride of the Incarnate Word, lived wholly transfixed with
Christ in God, pleading for certainty of His plans for my life.
Finally, being tugged by Him until utter exhaustion had set its claws into me, I conceded.
I conceded to the vocation that he had placed the yearning for so hungrily in my heart and soul.
As I drifted off into a tranquil slumber, I prayed a silent prayer and let it pour from my
heart like a river flowing out to sea, Lord, I give thee thanks for the fire you have placed in my
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simple heart. I promise to be unto you an honorable bride. Lord, I pray that you release me from
the anxieties I feel.
Night came shortly there after and I fell into a peaceful sleep where nothing in the mortal
world could harm me and my soul was finally at rest.
It was during the first free hour the next day, as I knelt with Olivia by our weeping
willow recounting my tale to her eager ears, that Sister Mary Martha came from across the
courtyard calling for me to accompany her to Mother Superior’s office, yet again. Sr. Mary
Martha had her usual stern and unappealing countenance gracing her hardened face which only
gave the other nuns in the courtyard an impression that I was in some kind of misfortunate mess.
I saw them snickering as I ran through the courtyard.
Arriving in the outer chamber of the Mother’s office, I panted with breathlessness from
the strenuous running. My lungs felt as if they were going to explode. Running like that was
something I hadn’t done since early childhood. Beads of sweat poured down my face and I
attempted to blot them away with the sleeve from my black habit. Sr. Mary Martha eyed my
demeanor with a scornful look. I often wondered if she had read in the Bible where Jesus said to
“love thy neighbor.” Olivia often said that Sr. Mary Martha’s motto was spare the rod and spoil
the child. Olivia, unfortunately, had been given the metaphorical “rod” many times since
beginning her postulancy.
Sr. Mary Martha entered Mother’s inner office leaving me for a few minutes so that I
may pray for His guidance. I was about to be asked a difficult question for many to answer but I
was more than willing to give the response Mother Superior wished to hear. Yet, I prayed
anyway. Only this time I did not lay myself prostrate on the hard floor but chose a simple
wooden chair near the statue of the Savior Child.
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Lord, I too was once a tiny lamb in your flock. I prayed silenty to myself so that the
listening ears would not hear the tender words that were meant only for His loving ears. You
know, Lord, I continued, that I have not always been a good lamb. But, now I have found a
deeper relationship with you here in this blessed place among your brides. I have begun a new
and marvelous union with your spirit. Lord, I wish to continue this journey into your most loving
arms. I wish to always be one with you and to no longer want the things that this Earth offers.
When I opened my teary eyes there she stood, Mother Superior, as peaceful as any white
dove in one of the many interpretative paintings of the Holy Spirit I had been blessed to see in
my young lifetime.
“Come with me, my little one.” She reached out for my hand and I received hers with
Her sturdy grasp escorted me in and offered me a seat next to a tall maple bookcase filled
with books on church doctrine and the lives of the Saints. Sr. Mary Martha was then politely
asked to leave and she did so, but with a grimace on her face.
Mother Superior’s face was filled with so much radiating love that she reminded me of
the Virgin Mary; so full of God’s grace she was. She began to speak as she sat down behind her
massive desk, “Have you prayed?”
My heart thumped loudly in my chest and my palms grew sweaty with anxiety. I had no
uncertainty of my commitment to Him but only the anxiety of knowing that the vows I made
could never be broken. I would always be his bride, always his faithful and loving child bride, or
so I thought. I was more than ready to be united with Christ Jesus and work with Him in the
mystery of Redemption. Yes, I was ready to become His spotless bride.
“Yes, Mother, I have prayed,” I began. “I have fasted and said my rosaries. I have
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questioned my decision and thought out every argument.” Her eyes looked uncertain. I could tell
she was trying to calculate from my expressions what decision I had come to.
“Then speak, my child. Tell me what your answer may be,” she said.
A heavenly grace fell over me as I spoke the words to her waiting ears; “I am to be his
bride. Now and forever.” His grace poured through me; warming me like a wave of incandescent
She let out a heavy sigh. “I am so delighted to hear this!”
She rose and embraced me with the Love of Christ. I reciprocated with the grace of a
lamb and the innocence of His love.
I had to wait until the afternoon free hour to bestow my wonderful news on Olivia. She
was embroidering a small velvet blanket for her new niece. It was a pale yellow color like the
yellow of a newly bloomed daisy. Her hands seemed to work in an elegant furry; errors were
never made and she could turn out the most glorious pieces in a matter of days! I never had the
finesse that she possessed when it came to needle work. I could produce beautiful works but it
took me far longer than Olivia. It was her gift from Him.
Upon closer inspection of this tiny garment, I found that she had already stitched a
demure lavender cross and ivory lamb onto the blanket’s surface. As I joined her on the solid
chartreuse bench overlooking the back gardens with it’s statue of St. Francis and it’s weeping
willows, she murmured, “Hello, you,” without looking away from her handiwork.
“Hello,” I chirped, still keeping an undertone to my voice. Sr. Mary Angelica was in the
western corner of the room reading a book on Cataclysmic Events and Sr. Mary Margaret was
eyeing us with disdain as we talked.
Olivia took the subtle hint and lowered her already dimmed voice, “So, are you going to
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tell me what Mother wanted?”
She scooted closer to me and put her embroidering aside.
“She needed to know my intentions that is all.” I could see her eyes searching my face for
an answer. I interrupted her searching glare; “You will have to wait, my dear friend. Just like the
rest of them, I’m afraid.”
With this I took my leave and made quick strides to my room, my head hanging in
solemn contemplation of the events waiting to unfold.
Weeks passed slowly, filling me with joy at the commitment that I was soon to make.
Olivia probed endlessly trying to ascertain my decision, but it wasn’t for me to announce. I
thought that the joy and peace I radiated would give her a clue but alas, I was wrong. Only days
later did I learn that she thought I had planned on leaving. She thought I was longing to travel
and explore God’s beautiful country. Poor innocent Olivia, if only she knew the events waiting
to unfold in my tumultuous future. But alas, the day did come and Mother Abbess named the
date of my Investiture – the tenth of October in the year 1398.
With the passing of the week, my Investiture was at hand. When morning broke the suns
embracing warmth poured through the narrow shutters awaking me. The angels of Heaven sang
down their holy chorus through the robins that gathered in the maple tree that stood proudly
outside my window serenading me with a love song from my Lord.
I dressed in my snow-white festive gown, lace veil, and white satin slippers, and fell to
the floor, prostrate, to give benediction to the Lord with a prayer of Thanksgiving to prepare
myself for the vows I was about to make.
As I lay prostrate before my maker and all His holy angels, I heard a whisper in the
distance, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your
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strength, with all your mind.” I knew these words. It was a Bible verse. Luke chapter ten verse
twenty-seven as I recall.
Collecting myself, I calmly treaded the path to the Sanctuary to partake in the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass and then my Investiture ceremony where I was to make a solemn vow to
live in insistent prayer and impassioned penance.
After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, came the moment of truth. My Earthly name was
called and I approached the altar wearing the snow-white gown of chastity and innocence and
went forth to give up my life to His higher calling. Mother Superior asked of my intentions and I
proclaimed to the congregation of nuns that sat before us and to the gathering crowd of peasants,
“I intend to become one with Christ and to live my life praising him.”
In my pursuit to unite with Him, my white gown was stripped from me and then Mother
Abbess clothed me in the brown garments of the lowly. They were rough but not so rough as to
inflict pain or harm of any kind. No, it was only rough enough to symbolize the sacrifice that I
made, the sacrifice of ending my affiliation with the Earth and beginning my affiliation with Him
in His heavenly kingdom.
Then beaming with all the Love of Christ and warmth of the Holy Spirit, I let her cut
from my tender head the golden knee length locks that I had grown since birth and then upon my
head was placed the white veil of the novice. I was then instructed to kick off the precious satin
shoes that my feet rested in. I was now ready to walk with unstumbling bare feet holding my
Saviors hand. I took the crucifix from Mother Abbess and was given a new name as a virgin
Bride in Christ. I was to be forever known in His eyes as Sister Mary Catherine of the Divine
Mercy and I thought the name suited me well indeed.
The other Sisters embraced me with love and in this convent I had found my true calling.
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His love and peace filled my mortal body like a wave of innocent splendor crashing against my
heart. All was well and nearly two years of time swirled by. I had found my gift, my passion,
caring for the sick and dying. I had requested that after being invested as a novice that I continue
to work with the weak of the surrounding community.
The Bubonic Plague had wiped out at least half of Europe’s population by then and my
assistance was greatly needed caring for the dying since many of the doctors had perished with
the passing of the plague.
Actually, the children… the innocent and tender children dying on the white beds in the
infirmary asked for me. I spent many days and nights holding their tiny hands and watching them
slowly pass away, following the angels home. I cry for them now as I write this account of my
life… my existence… a vermeil tear is slipping down my pale cheek. I guess there is still a part
of me that mourns for those little souls … those souls that I helped into the undying light.
Alas, the hour in which I write is growing late and I mustn’t linger in this past much
longer. I have too many pasts that could take up several tomes and this passage isn’t for the
telling of those tales. But, I must digress and begin in the beginning… the circumstances leading
to my current existence. That is why I began this tale in the convent afterall.
It was nearly a month before I was to take my First Profession of Vows. Mother Abbess
and Sr. Mary Martha were instructing me on what would be expected after the profession of
these vows and how the ceremony would take place. All the while, I was caring for the sickly
children at night. It was on one of these nights… a night as black as ebony with not a star to
grace the sky… that the strange events foreshadowing to my present existence came to light.
As I sat next to a dying girl, wiping the sweat from her frail limbs, the ringing of the
enclosures’ gate bell alerted me. I rose to my feet and steadied myself. It couldn’t have been no
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more than two or three in the morning and I had never known anyone, sick or healthy, to come at
such an early morning hour. I made a gesture for Sr. Mary Elizabeth to take over caring for the
ailing child and I made my way towards the gate to see who had come and what it was they
Approaching the solid door, I cautiously looked through the cross-shaped hole. On the
other side stood a tall, looming hooded figure clad in a brilliant maroon robe that graced the dirt
path beneath it’s feet. I couldn’t make out their face and I couldn’t even tell if it was a man or
“What is it you seek at this hour, traveler?”
Worry came over me and I prayed that this person meant no harm or evil will in coming
here at this early hour.
And then it spoke in a very hushed voice so that its identity wouldn’t be discovered. The
words it spoke… the connotation dripping in eerie mysticism… otherworldly yet mysteriously
“I wish to see your Mother Superior. It is for her ears and her ears alone that I bring my
grievances, ” It said.
This was foolishness! Who was so brazen to seek the attention of a sleeping woman and
to bring before her tired feet grievances at such an odd hour!
“You must call for her in the morning. Mother does not accept pilgrims during the night
hours,” I responded.
I turned away and begun walking down the path that led to the convent, my lantern
swinging in the chilly autumn wind. I still felt it’s eyes glaring through the cross-shaped hole.
I continued to walk away yet the figure urged on. “I can not return in the morning and
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this is a matter of urgency! I must see your Mother Superior,” It demanded.
I froze in terror. An icy feeling coursed through me, and as if in a trance, I responded,
“Then… I will… get her.”
Still in a seeming trance like state, I went forth to wake Mother Superior so that she could
hold meeting with this unusual and mysterious traveler. My body was completely possessed by
the power the looming figure emanated.
I made haste to Mother’s cell and tapped lightly and steadily on the door. I waited, not
budging in my stance. I remember her taxing voice squeaking out a meager “Who is it?” Then
hearing her sleepy feet fall with a thud onto the wood plank floor. The straw mattress rustled as
she stretched into a stand.
“Mother Superior, a traveler has requested entrance into the Cloister. It is a matter of
most importance and the traveler demands to be seen,” I called out.
I heard a series of sighs escape from the opposite side of the door and as her footsteps
began approaching my way, I heard her whispering a prayer. Surely it was a prayer of patience
but perhaps even a prayer of safety for her flock. Regrettably, at the time I did not possess the
miraculous ability to dwell on her intimate thoughts so I can never know for sure. Finally, after
what seemed an eternity, she opened the creaking door and began making her way down the
hallway. About halfway down the tanned stone corridor she signaled for me to follow her and so
I did.
She opened the Iron Gate into the foyer of the convent that led to the outside world.
“Who is this person and what do they seek?” she asked.
“They would not reveal themselves, Mother. Nor, did they reveal any intentions… they
merely asked for you.”
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At this statement she froze and glanced at me searching my eyes for any untruth…
fear… anything she could possibly find. I didn’t know then, but its power over me was far
greater than I could have ever fathomed. My mind was completely and utterly shrouded to her
prying eyes. To her I was just an innocent child still sheltered from the evils of the world. In
essence I was still hidden from the evils but, as I was so naive to disbelieve at the time, I was
slowly being brought out and into the light by this fiend. Its grasp had already trapped my mind
and taken a strong and undying hold.
We approached the gate, me walking at a safe distance behind her. She peered through
the hole and demanded that the traveler make their intentions known.
“Dearest Mother,” it began, with a most reverent demeanor to its eerie voice, “I seek a
private audience with you and it must be held immediately. I bid you to grant me this request for
I am most unable to return in the daylight and this matter, Dear Mother, is most urgent indeed.”
Its voice was quite eerie.
I could tell by her sloped shoulders and droopy eyelids that she was in no condition to
accept the traveler’s request. She appeared to be lapsing in and out of slumber as she wearily
held fast to the gatepost.
With a heavy sigh, she responded, quite irritated, “What matter could be so urgent,
traveler?” Her tender eyes glanced my way and I meagerly let a sly smile slip and shrugged my
“It’s a matter that concerns one of your flock. A matter that needs tending to before
severe damage is done,” it claimed.
I searched her face when he had said this. My own eyes showed surprise. Who? What
matter? Damage? She returned my worried glance with a worried glance of her own.
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“I ask that you place all weapons and implements of ill will into the blue box on your left
and wait until the gate has been unlocked. I will allow you to enter only then,” she stated.
She watched as the traveler removed a tiny jewel encrusted dagger from a concealed
satchel. It made a gesture showing that its person had been ridden of evil weaponry. But, the
most deadly weapon it possessed could not be removed, as I was to later find out. She then asked
for my assistance opening the heavy door and before I knew it, the three of us stood together in
the foyer.
She looked at me with a Mother’s concern and told me to, “withdraw behind the
enclosure to protect myself from the evils of the manly flesh.” I was already making haste to the
enclosure gate before she even began her maternal command.
As was customary of our order, I stayed behind the enclosure seating myself in an oak
armchair near the corner of the enclosure. This was for the Mother’s protection, of course. I
watched the sheepish figure sway gently under the heavy gray cloak it wore. It seemed no less
than three sizes over what a person of its height and build would customarily wear and for some
reason I found this to be a suspicious curiosity. Something inside my soul was shouting, “do not
trust it… it means only harm coming here!” But alas, I dared not speak any of this to Mother. I
remained calm and collected in my chair, ready to bear witness to the urgent testimony that this
person of urged to tell.
Yet as I took my seat, I felt an odd sensation as if I were being watched. Slowly I looked
up from my lap and returned it’s vacant stare and only then was I sure the person was of the male
sex. His eyes were full of malice and his glance seemed to penetrate my mind. Strangely, I felt as
if he had this hold on me, this eerie and secret embrace of sorts. But to my relief, his powerful
grasp quickly let go and he directed his attention once again to Mother Superior.
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“I wish to speak in private,” he commanded.
I could sense the contempt she felt. This man coming at such a late hour demanding to
speak with her and now, of all things, to demand to speak in private!
“Do you not know the custom of a cloistered order, Sir? For the safety of all who reside
here, I can not permit such a request.”
He remained quiet for a short while and then made a gesture toward me. “Then, most
Reverend Mother, please excuse this Sister in exchange for another,” he politely demanded.
For some reason, and rest assured this reason was never revealed to me, she allowed this.
She politely asked that I ring the courtyard bell and summon another Sister. I thus did and Sr.
Mary Rebecca came henceforth and I was asked to return to my duties.
I returned to my duties without struggle and used the endless night to ponder why this
stranger had singled me out in such a manner. What was he hiding from me? What could be so
important, perhaps, that my ears were not worthy to over hear? I wondered if I wasn’t just
contributing more mystery to this event than there had actually been. It wasn’t until morning that
I discovered, unfortunately, that more than I could have ever imagined was behind this matter.
Morning came and I was awoken in a very unusual way. I usually rose with the Morning
Prayer bell, quickly dressed and then made haste to Morning Prayer. Yet, this morning three
strong taps upon my door had awoken me. Actually, it wasn’t yet morning. Upon waking and
asking for the time, I learned it was only 4:30 A.M and knowing I had only obtained less than
one hour of sleep silently perturbed me.
As I dressed in the candlelight I fought off the enormous urge to return to my warm bed. I
even pinched my flesh thinking I could be dreaming. Alas, I wasn’t. Sr. Mary Rebecca sat
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outside my door waiting to escort me to Mother’s office. When I finished dressing, I opened my
cell door to find her standing before me. Her face was as pale as pressed powder and her eyes
teary. I pulled her into my room and locked the door being as quiet as I could possibly be.
“What’s wrong? What has shaken you so?” I asked in an urgent yet hushed voice. She
trembled and seemed frightened.
“Mother wants you,” she began but her voice seemed to trail off near the end and I could
barely hear her words.
“Why?” I had asked yet no answer came from her. “Why?” I demanded. I insisted that
she trust me.
“Mary Catherine, that strange man just left.” Her voice was barely audible.
I moved in closer to her. “Did he do something? What happened?” I asked.
She closed her eyes as if attempting to recall something forgotten. “It was most strange.
He had this power over Mother Superior… this hold. He tried to embrace her… it was most
strange. I silently prayed the rosary trying to escape his evil spell. He must have been a sorcerer
or something most evil.”
I couldn’t understand what had happened. Her words were as jumbled as her facial
features. One minute she seemed in awe of this strange visitor and the next she appeared
frightened as if Death itself had come to visit.
“Then let us go with haste to Mother Superior. We mustn’t keep her waiting any longer.”
She nodded and followed me as I left the room.
I made haste to Mother’s side; my foot steps heavy with panic and fear. If Mother were in
any condition similar to Mary Rebecca’s I wasn’t sure what measures I could take to repair the
situation. I feared the worst; yet, I couldn’t quite fathom what the worst could really be.
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How could I have ever fathomed who or what this stranger really was? I was naïve to the
tales coming from the local village. The tales had seemed wild and otherworldly and I had only
believed in Christ and His ever-lasting love, not superstition and folklore. But all that was to
I was taken aback in horror at the sight of Mother Superior. She appeared childlike as she
sheepishly cowered in the corner near her maple bookshelf. Yes, she was like a scared child and
her eyes stared vacantly at me as I entered the room.
I laid my hand gently on her cheek. “Mother, are you well? What is it that you wanted me
for?” I asked.
It was as if my words were a miraculous cure for as quickly as I spoke them she
recovered from her trance. Her hand grasped mine in urgency and she barked at me to sit. As I
followed her command and made my way to a chair near her desk, she commanded, in an urgent
tone, that Mary Rebecca return to her cell and keep to herself what had gone on in this very
room. I sat calmly yet, unsure of the cause for my summons.
She took her seat behind the desk and sighed heavily as she folded her hands across her
chest. “Have you ever heard of the Notarial Act of Renouncement?” A frown graced her face and
it revealed her many wrinkles.
“No,” I replied in my softest most reverent voice.
“Well,” she began, her voice dripping with hesitance. “It’s an act that a religious must
take to renounce their titles and inheritance before making their solemn vows. Does this mean
anything to you?”
I could barely catch my breath it was as if the wind had been knocked out of me! I didn’t
know what to say really. I wasn’t sure if the truth mattered at that point. But, I spoke it anyway;
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it wasn’t as if I had a choice.
“Yes, Mother, it means a great deal to me.” I felt ashamed and hung my head low.
She moved to my side and placed her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. “Tell me how
this is true. Tell me how I had not come to hear this from your own mouth.”
“I was the Duchess Bree of York,” I began. “I used to live in a lavish estate twice the size
of this convent. I had servants and riches that could keep my Sister’s here fed for years. We
vacationed by the sea and enjoyed a life of luxery and ease.”
“How did you end up here?” she asked, as I was lost in my reminiscing.
“My father had been traveling near the south of England when the Plague first broke out.
He unkowingly contracted it and brought it back to my family. It killed him and my mother off
quickly, my brother was still suffering when I left.”
“How is it that you were spared, My Child?”
“I had been with my cousins in our seaside estate. I began returning when I received
word of mother and father’s illness, but by the time that I arrived they had already parished. I
was too late. My brother, Winston, he was already showing signs of infection and had been
quarantined. I slipped down to the quarantine barracks and said good-bye and then considered
my options. Since my family had been obliterated, I knew no wealthy man would have me so my
nurse maid suggested I enter the convent,” I explained.
“The Lord was your escape?”
“No, my refuge,” I answered calmy. “I had wanted to be a Nun, secretly, but being from a
wealthy family of status I had always known my duty was to marry wealthy. With that duty now
no longer needing fulfilled, I saw entering the convent as a sign from God.”
“So, you will renounce your title and your riches then?” Mother asked.
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“Without hesitation, Mother. All I have is sitting right here in these meager clothes.”
“I’m relieved for that answer, My Child!” she proclaimed, her sullen face
suddenly filling with light. But then I asked a question that now, if I had known the answer, I
wouldn’t have asked.
“Mother,” I hesitated. “Who was the stranger who came here tonight? Only my
nursemaid knew my destination and I am certain that this stranger was not she.”
She rose and moved to the window. Her fingers dusted the windowsill and she wiped the
dust on her habit making a smear appear on the lint-free fabric.
“Mary Catherine,” she began, her voice trailed off like a summer breeze as it faded into a
whisper. She moved closer almost close enough to embrace me. “How can I say this?”
I took her hand and pressed on with my demand. “Tell me, please! Tell me who this
deceitful man was. What were his motives for bringing this news for I can see no reason why this
information is important? Was he from the Vatican, Mother? From the Pope himself?”
Her eyes stared into my own. They were like icy sapphires that were about to cut into my
soul with their piercing glare.
“He claimed to be,” tears began welling up in her eyes, “Mary Catherine, he said he was
your brother. Your brother Winston.”
I let go of her grip and leapt from my chair in panic. “No! No, it can’t be! It just can’t
be!” I screamed. I threw my hands up in disbelief. Winston had perished with the plague. I left
him for dead. How could this have been him?
I crawled into the corner and curled up like a baby and cried. She knelt beside me trying
to comfort me.
“I know that this is most difficult to fathom and it’s definitely a shock,” her voice was
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soft and her words comforting. Her voice had always possessed a soothing quality to it. “But he
had proof… he had papers.”
I was dumbstruck, silent, broken in some way, or maybe just cracked. Papers? How? It
couldn’t have been Winston – my darling brother! What kind of trickery was this? This man had
been evil, he stunk of evil, and my brother had not been evil. My brother had been sweet and
kind, and loved with every ounce of life in him. I trembled inside yet on the outside, I was frozen
stiff - a statue.
She excused me from my daily chores and I was escorted back to my cell. I couldn’t stop
the tears from flowing down my pale cheeks. How could my brother have survived the plague?
He was already covered in boils when I had left home. I had left him for dead giving him a
liberal three days to live. But how had he not only survived but also recovered fully. His skin,
from what I had seen of it, and believe me this was not a vast amount, appeared white almost like
an aged ivory. Strange how flawless it looked, how smooth and perfect.
I resigned to sleep. I knew not what the night was to bring me and I slept throughout the
day. I slept and I prayed. And the sleep was peaceful, uneventful, and very much needed.
Chapter Two
Nightfall came all too quickly and with it the ringing of the supper bell. I blotted my teary
eyes and made haste to the Dining hall where I found Olivia sitting at our usual table near the
corner of the large dimly lit dining hall. If I had known that that was to be the last time I would
see her, I would’ve broken my vow of silence and expressed the depth of love and friendship I
had for her.
But, in my shock and bewilderment, all I could do was stare at my plate. I barely ate. I
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only took sips from my cup. At one point I did glance up and look, rather quickly and without
her knowing at Olivia – or as she was known then, Sr. Mary Clarisse. A solemn look was graced
upon her face and I knew she was wondering what had happened and why I had taken to my cell
for the entire day. Oh, if I only I could’ve answered her questioning looks. If I had known what
the night was bringing, I would have grabbed onto her tightly and I would’ve never let go.
But alas this did not happen, and not long into the supper hour I approached Mother
Superior and politely asked to be excused. I walked out with my head hanging low and my eyes
filled with tears. I now wish I had stayed but, unfortunately, I can’t change the past any more
than I can the future.
I went to my cell, opened the door and stepped into what would become the end of a
sacred and sanctified life.
I dressed in a white cotton nightgown, simple and pure, and knelt before my bed in
prayer. The moon had risen and was full and white like a perfectly formed pearl in the sky. There
were many stars out on this night and I looked into the sky as if it would be my last nightfall.
“Lord, the Maker of the Heavens, of the stars, and of the moon…” My hands outstretched
towards my open window, my voice whispering into the candelit room. My young eyes open to
behold His glorious moon. “All this beauty you give to us your children and what is it that we
give back to you? Lord, I am deeply troubled. You know this. You know my heart maybe better
than I even know it. Why did Winston not parish with the plague? Lord, I left him for dead! I left
him dying on a cot in a house marked for death!” Tears cascaded down my cheeks like raindrops.
“Lord, what miracle spared him? He was on his way to you, Lord, as I was on my way here. Yet,
he walks as if there had been no disease in his body. Of all your mysteries that I know I can’t
begin to understand, Lord, this I admit is beyond me.” I closed my eyes and prostrated myself on
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the cool, stone floor, my tears moistening the slab beneath me. “Lord, how did he find me here?
Why does he seek for me to renounce my title? Does he want me to leave with him? I will
renounce it, Lord! For you, I would renounce the daylight and forsake the pleasant sound of
children laughing! But what were his intentions? Lord, could it have truly been Winston? Has he
really been spared by some miracle? I won’t pretend to understand your divinity, Lord. I can’t
begin to comprehend it. Oh, I just wish I knew why he had been here. I wish I could’ve seen him.
Why didn’t he want me to see him, Lord? Why?”
I climbed into bed and was asleep within seconds. My dreams were bewildering and each
one sent me tossing and turning in the soft, white sheets. Sadly I don’t remember them now. I
guess it has been too long, and my mind is crowded with a bundle of sad memories. There are
some things though, from that terrible night, that I wish I could forget…
A whispering sound had awoken me in the middle of the night. I remember suddenly
feeling a presence in the room. I had lain there, stiff and quiet under my blanket. My breathing labored. I was frightened!
“Who is there?” I whispered.
Nothing but cold silence and the stillness of night surrounded me.
I began to tremble. Tears were pooling under my quivering eyelids. Still, I felt the
presence. Then suddenly, I remembered where I had felt it before. It was he!
“It is I, my darling sister. Be still and quiet,” he projected these words into my mind
without the tiniest sound escaping from his lips, as if by magic.
“What do you want?” My knuckles were white from holding onto the bed sheet so
tightly. “What do you want?” I pleaded.
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I could sense him moving to the foot of my bed. His shadowy figure looming over me,
“You,” he replied.
I rose and swiftly flew into the corner nearest the window. It was then, in the pale
moonlight, that I saw his face. His features were strong and solemn and very pronounced. He
was far more handsome than before the plague, far more handsome than I had remembered him
being. His black hair was like the night air, and it seemed to float each strand independent from
the other. His eyes were dark now, dark like ebony. Even his voice was different. It seemed
deeper than I remembered it ever being.
“What do you mean?” I was paralyzed by the vision of him… the vision of someone I
had thought to be gone forever.
He moved closer to me so that he could stroke his fingers through my hair. I saw in his
black eyes love and hate, mingling and living as one emotion.
He whispered into my ear, “I have come for you, sister. I have come to take you forever
from the day and bring you into my world, the world of the night.”
Before I could question him… before I could plead with him… he bent and took me
tightly into his forceful embrace. He sunk his teeth into my tender neck and my life passed by
my eyes like a wave of cascading moments in time as he drained the crimson life from my
helpless body. I struggled but quickly gave in for his strength was far greater than my own.
Finishing, he threw me upon the bed. I was near death. I knew this. I had seen many
children go to their deaths and I was too familiar with death by then. As I layed there, sobbing
into my pillow, he whispered into my ear that would it soon be over.
“The pain will stop soon, then you won’t feel the cramping any longer,” he assured me as
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I swam between death and reality. “When the darkness comes, don’t fear it. Embrace it. Take it
in and make it part of yourself, or you’ll die.”
“I’m… not… afraid… of death,” I choked out. Waves of dizziness were washing upon
me, one after another; violently they crashed upon my head with hurricane force.
“Stop speaking nonesense and do as I say.”
Then, without warning, the night came upon me. Its sky was blacker than any night I had
ever witnessed. It seemed to grow darker and darker; my mind becoming cloudier as it was
covered in this blank void of vague darkness. My mind swam in a sea of dizziness, my hands
struggling through the void to grasp onto reality, yet unable to reach it.
I could hear his voice commanding me, for I had no control now of what I did or what I
was, “Embrace the darkness, Anise. Don’t fight it!” And so I resigned to the void and let it pull
me into its cold eternity.
Once I came around, I opened my newborn eyes and saw billions of crystals floating
weightless in the air as if they were floating along numerous currents in an atmospheric stream.
There were glorious beads of light and cold as shimmering ice as they stung my ashen face.
I was overcome with the dizziness now, falling upon my bed. My hands reached out to
grab something or someone, whatever existed in the surrounding darkness. Beads of sweat
poured down my burning cheeks. I grew dizzier and felt as if I could faint. I may have fainted, I
can not remember now. It seemed like I was falling down an endless hole into a constant void. I
felt I would never meet with the bottom of this hell! Then the beating began - the last thumpings
of my human heart.
It came over me like a crashing wave beating against a shoreline. It pounded with such
force, such intensity, that I thought my heart would leap from my chest in a bloody escape.
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My eyes closed, my palms sweating, my fingers twitching in agony. I prayed as I felt the
last beats of my human heart.
“Oh Lord,” I panted.
“Please take away this pain!” I screamed.
”Please!” I screamed into the vague darkness.
Then like a vice tightening it’s grip, my heart was squeezed of it’s human life and
invaded by this new cold eternity.
I laid there, quiet and still. Not moving. My shorn hair grew reaching the middle of my
back within minutes. I felt it through a newly heightened sense of touch. My fingernails were
longer and looked almost incandescent in the room’s dim candlelight. Then my tongue found the
elongated fangs and my fingers explored the pointed teeth which were now very sharp.
Nothing more can be remembered from that night except that he carried me into the sky
until we fell to the earth in front of a spacious castle. I was then ushered into a crypt and placed
into a large marble tomb. He had layed there next to me as I slept. I had felt his presence. I
awoke the next nightfall not knowing to the full extent what I had become.
I would have thought it all a hideous nightmare if I hadn’t seen him lying next to me
when I awoke. I was overcome with sudden emotion - sadness, fear, and then confusion. Tears
were slowly creeping down my cheeks… crimson tears.
“What have I become?” I screamed. “What am I?”
His eyes closed as he sighed heavily. I could sense the emotion welling up inside him
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like a bubbling volcano. I knew that what he was about to tell me would be most difficult for
him, yet it was unavoidable.
Slowly he began, “Anise, my sister, my pure and innocent sister, you are a Pamgri or
Vampir.” He closed his eyes tightly and I could sense the sorrow that he felt.
“I’m a what?”
I was confused. I had heard tales of these creatures from Hungary – horrid tales. Some of
the children in our care told of tales that their father’s had told them. Their dreams were haunted
by the images of a demon-like creature that would suck their blood and turn them into demon
spawn. Hideous really. So little was really known of these myths and until now I had thought
them only stories meant to scare little children into behaving. But how could I be one of these
evil creatures?
“You are a vampir – an undead. No longer a child of the morning but a woman of the
night.” His eyes were sympathetic as they looked into mine. They were already full of remorse
for what he done to me.
“But, Winston, I’m a nun! I belong to God! I can’t exist as some evil creature of the
night!” I was furious. I was frightened. How could this be? How could this have happened? “I
can’t kill. You… you can’t make me!”
“Listen,” he was gently whispering in my ear now, surely attempting to calm me to some
degree. “You can exist this way. Continue to pray as you always have. Continue to say your
homilies. Continue to do whatever it is you need to do. These things can’t hurt you. But, and I
must stress this, you must drink the blood. If you do not, you will live in a state of despair and
utter starvation! But, you will not die.”
I was speechless. How could I take the life of another to save my own? How could I feed
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off a human being?
“The animal in you, the Vampir, will need satisfied. It will take over, and you won’t have
any control,” he said.
As if still in some dream, I followed him up the crumbling stone steps that led out from
the crypt. I followed him through a maze of tunnels and hidden rooms until we were outside
under a twinkling blanket of crystal stars. I stared into the night sky- awestricken- and I fell to
my knees from the simple beauty of it. I had never seen the stars like I saw them then with my
new vampiric sight. They were like tiny diamonds floating in a rippled pool of clear midnight. It
was as if I could literally reach out and grab them; they seemed so close to me. Even the air felt
like a refreshing wave as the breeze gently blew against my cool skin.
I was caught in rapture at the beauty that surrounded me. The trees looked alive as they
danced in the soft wind and the pebbles below my feet resembled marble. There were clear
pebbles too. I had never seen rock this translucent and when it caught the light of the moon it
looked like glass.
He led me to a small pond on the edge of a thick forest. “Look into the water, Anise.
Look at your new beauty, your now eternal image.”
I glanced down and peered into the motionless pool of water. What I saw was nothing
more than perfection. My hair had grown longer than I had ever worn it. The flowing waves
collected at my lower back, nearly touching my tailbone and I could see layers of new coloring
that I never had before. There was some light blonde, dark blonde and white highlights mixed
into my golden locks now. My eyes were now an apple green, far from their once intense
emerald. My skin, too, was paler and resembled freshly packed powder. All of my features
seemed refined and the change in my appearance was remarkable.
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Then I saw them! I saw the tiny fangs I had felt the night before, the night I had been
“How could you have done this to me? How could you have removed me from the living
– removed me from my Lord?” I cried.
“I was lonely, Anise. Very, very lonely,” he replied without looking away from the night
“Lonely! All of this because you are lonely?”
“In time you will understand, Anise. In time you will know what it means to be
completely alone and to feel it like a giant ache in your heart,” he replied, solemnly.
But, as I began to accept this new existence I understood that I was no longer Anise, the
child Duchess. I was no longer Mary Catherine, the Catholic Nun. I was forever changed and
these fangs were the beginning of a new life, a new time, and a new identity. I felt different. I
was different. I had no choice but to be different.
I turned to face him; his features were just as striking as they had been the night before.
“I need a new name.”
He looked puzzled and an amused smile crept onto his face. I continued to look at him
“Why do you need a new name? Your name is Anise. That’s the name mother gave you,
is it not? Why would you ever want to change it?” He gave a soft laugh and shrugged as he
turned away.
“I’m serious, Winston.”
“All right…all right.” He stopped and faced me. “Then I’ll be known as Caesar. For now
on I insist that you call me Caesar!” He fell into a fit of hysterical laughing. After all these years
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he still hadn’t grown up.
“Listen. Sit down, here in the moonlight, and let me explain this to you.”
He shrugged. He knew that I was serious, though I could tell he didn’t know why, and he
sat down leaning against a large rock.
“I’m all ears, little sister.”
I took my seat near a towering pine and began my explanation.
“When mother gave birth to me she named me Anise. When I became a nun it too
symbolized a new birth. I was no longer of the world but of His kingdom,” I paused momentarily
fighting back a tightening sensation in my throat. “That was when I took the name Mary
Catherine.” He nodded. “So, with each new life I’ve began I’ve been given a new name. Do you
He nodded. “So, you view this existence as a rebirth of sorts?”
I thought on this for a moment and then answered him in a sobering tone, “Winston, with
this new existence I must take the blood of a living creature in order to sustain my own life.” He
nodded along. “I was a nun, a Bride of Christ, I abhor violence of any kind! I can longer be that
person, you’ve made sure of that. I can no longer be Sister Mary Catherine or I’ll go mad. That
existence is dead to me now. You’ve killed who I was, who I loved being. You’ve murdered who
I was meant to be.”
He took my face in his and gently placed a brotherly kiss upon my cheek. “You know I’ll
protect you. I’ll protect you for eternity, my sweet and innocent sister.” His eyes were misting
over with crimson tears.
“Don’t fret, Winston. I don’t mean these things in an ill manner. I’m only attempting to
explain and come to terms with this new existence.” He gestured for me to continue. “As I was
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saying, when I went to the convent I ceased to live as a high duchess, lounging on my pillows
and having maidens comb out my hair, and I became Sister Mary Catherine. I toiled the earth
and sewn my own clothing. I embraced poverty and sacrificed everything that I once was.” I
close my eyes, sighing. “But now you have come to me and made me into this creature of the
night; this monster that haunted the dreams of the sick children I use to tend to. You must see
why I can no longer go by either of these names. I am no longer the child you once knew or the
nun you embraced last evening. I’m no longer the person I used to be and now, for the second
time in my young life, I find myself being reborn only this time I had no control over it!” My
eyes filled with blood tears and I fought them back not wanting them to fall.
He grabbed me and held me tight. “I’m sorry, my darling sister, I’m eternally sorry for
what I forced upon you.” He let go and walked away leaving me sitting in the dewy grass.
I watched as he walked to the edge of the pond. He stooped down and scooped up some
of the crystal water and let it fall gently down his face. He turned toward me and gave me a
beaming smile.
“Is everything fine with us?” he shouted from the water’s edge. “Do you forgive me?”
“I must.”
“Then we are fine?” he shouted back.
“Yes, we are fine. But, I’m starving!” I said releasing all tension from my voice and
shuddering because I couldn’t escape taking life. I couldn’t escape being the creature he had
made me, so I resigned myself to the life I was now forced into.
He gave a hearty and relieved laugh as he walked towards me.
“Some things will never change. You were always hungry.” He helped me to my feet and
then led me off in the direction of a neighboring village.
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When we approached the village, he pointed towards a tiny house on the outskirts. It was
no more than a one-room dirt floor hovel. Candlelight flickered through the windows and I could
hear the sound of laughter coming from the house.
As we moved closer, I could already smell the blood. My hunger for it consumed me like
no other craving I had ever had in my life. It took complete control over me and I couldn’t have
fought the yearning for blood even if I had tried. He gestured for me to stay close as we moved
closer. From the distance, I could see three men surrounding a small fireplace against the back
wall. They were drunk on wine –the bottles laid scattered on the floor- and I could smell the
sweet liquor on their breath.
We approached and welcomed ourselves in through the front door. These men, these
gluttons, they staggered as they stood and tried to fight Winston off like blind men. He quickly,
and with an amazing display of strength, flung the first of the three men into a far corner. The
poor sap smacked into the wall with a loud ‘thud’ and then slumped down and didn’t move.
The next man, the more cunning of the three, ran towards him holding a wooden chair.
Without taking the slightest step, Winston had appeared behind the man, thrown the chair across
the room breaking a half-empty bottle of wine that sat on the table, and pulled the man into an
intimate embrace in one swift move. He looked at me from across the room as he sank his teeth
into the man’s fattened neck. As his eyes closed, I could hear his victims heart beat grow slower,
and slower, until it finally stopped.
He dropped the body and turned to the last man, the fattest most disgusting of the three,
who was hovering near the corner in fright. Winston slowly moved towards him whispering,
trying to coax him out and into the open.
“Come out. We mean you no harm,” he whispered.
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The man slowly moved towards Winston with the same glazed look in his eye that I had
the night Winston had come to the convent. He signaled for me to join him and, reluctantly, I
forced myself to go. Famished, I knew that this would be my menu for I had no choice in the
matter now. I didn’t want to die just yet. Actually, until that moment, I don’t think the wholeness
of my present situation had really sunken in.
“Take him. Take him as I took his pig of a friend.”
The man’s eyes were glossy and forgiving. I embraced him, whispering into his ear, “Do
you believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell?”
His mind answered back, “Yes.”
“And where do you believe you’re headed?” I asked.
Again, his mind answered for him, “Hell.”
I sank my fangs into his neck and the blood flowed through me like a rushing river of
warmth. I savored every last drop until his heart stopped. Letting his fattened body slump to the
ground, I approached the dazed man Winston had tossed into the corner. I repeated my questions,
received the same answers and he knew what was coming. He knew I brought the kiss of death
and, oddly, he accepted this without even a fight. I then fed off this young one, this stinking and
nasty being, and let the body fall to the ground.
I glanced about the room searching for Winston and found him kneeling before the body
of the fat man I had just killed. He made a tiny slit in his wrist and let a few droplets of blood
flow onto the bite wounds in the neck. Instantly, they healed. He could sense me watching.
“So we are never caught, my darling sister. Always erase the bite marks”
After “erasing” the marks from the third mans neck, we retreated from the house and
made our way back to our dungeon hideout. It had been just as Winston said it would be. In
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those earlier years, when the hunger set in, the animal in me took control and I could do nothing
by sit inside myself and behold the destuction.
Over the next four years we hunted together nightly and I learned from him all the
knowledge he possessed. We traveled the vastness of Europe stopping in prominent cities and
attending grand balls. I was always clothed in the finest attire and owned the most elaborate
wig’s money could buy. We were far wealthier than our father had ever been and we were
having the most festive of times!
I often delighted in posing as a Duchess from a far off country and he my gallant Duke. It
was so easy to fool everyone; so easy to weave our spell over the innocent minds. I went by
several names; a new one for each ball I attended. I often stole the name from a victim that I had
fed from earlier in the evening. Sometimes Winston would join me in that little game, but not
It was all such an elated journey with him, but it eventually ended as all things must end,
I’m afraid. But I will get to that in due time. I must lay it out for you, my dear readers; I must
reveal all the things Winston taught me in the short time we traveled together.
First, and foremost, he taught me to feed on a cloven-footed victim who was villainous
and ruthless in nature. I never had difficulty locating such fiendish persons. Evil exists in every
corner of this vast world, every infested nook and cranny. You can count on it as surely as the
sun will rise in the morning and the moon at night.
He also taught me to love. I know. I know. He was my brother. But he taught me how
creatures like myself, destined to walk in the shadows and haunt the minds of young children,
need that simple element of love in our worlds in order to exist without going completely insane.
I saw this in his cold vampire eyes several times. I could sense that he had longed for
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love when he made me. He had wanted a companion but ended up with a sister who should have
never been made. Even after four years he still apologized on occasion and was still riddled with
guilt. I detested seeing him so lonely. I detested that I was powerless in helping him satisfy his
need for something other than the love of a sister.
But alas, he taught me many things. He taught me to survive. He taught me how to pass
as human when it was necessary, which is most of the time I’m afraid. He taught me how to
hunt. I only took a life when that person’s soul had already journeyed to Heaven and all that
remained was a sickly shell aching and begging to be set free from the torture of death.
Only on rare occasions, when I needed to feed from the good, I took “nibble drinks,” as
Winston calls them. I created an art form of my very own and perfected it over the centuries. I
can now feed in a crowded room without anyone noticing my presence. My victim is merely
dazed for a moment and passes it off as exhaustion or drunkenness. I am merely a shadow
carried out with the wind. It has taken centuries upon centuries to achieve what I have achieved,
but I can now move so quickly that I can cover great distances without being noticed. All you
would feel if I ever came to spy upon you would be a strong wind rushing through your hair and
the tiny hairs on your neck standing in my presence.
Despite all of the things Winston taught me, our paths had to part. I was never what he
was longing for; I was just keeping him from finding it.
One evening in March, during our fourth year together, I choose to make preparations to
leave Winston. I had the means to survive on my own by then and I was no longer a child spawn,
a fledgling as they are called now. Believe me, the decision to leave him was a difficult one to
make, but I wanted to be alone so badly I could taste it and I knew that he craved for a worthy
companion as much as I for my freedom.
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It took several weeks for me to obtain a safe passage, pack my meager belongings, and
select a destination. I could fly back then, but not to the extent I can now. These powers are
given with the Blood, nay because of the Blood, but they must be developed and perfected,
gaining in strength through the years.
These weren’t difficult tasks to go about performing since Winston and I hunted
separately by then. But when it came down to giving him my farewells, I just couldn’t face him.
It was that simple. He was all I had known since the convent, and I was all he had. But alas, in
my heart I knew he would never seek a worthy companion if I were still in his care. So I wrote
him a letter releasing him from all obligations and I left. He never saw it coming, I’m sure.
I remember placing the letter on his desk, the one he always sat at reading by candlelight.
The moonlight was casting a very peaceful glow on everything in the room. I placed it on the
desk, all alone, it’s starch white envelope much brighter than everything else on the desk. There I
left it, and as I whispered farewell I knew I would never be back there.
The letter, giving my love and farewells:
Dearest Winston,
My dearest and beloved brother, It is with supreme sadness that
I write these words to you. I know they are in pen and not an oral witness but please take to
heart what I write in these pages for I mean every word and have only your best intentions in
Winston, my brother and maker, all I have known, I have fled to a far away land. Please,
do not attempt to find me just yet. I think it best that we both have our time apart.
I must find a new destiny and you must find a loving companion who can wipe the sadness from
your eyes.
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I relieve you off any obligation you might feel towards my care. I am strong now, you
know this, and I can fend for myself. Perhaps, in the future, our paths shall cross. Such a meeting
would be sweet, I’m sure. I wish you only the best and all I ask is the same in return. Take care
of yourself, dear brother.
Forever your Sister,
Anice Mary Catherine
It was done the packing, the planning and the good-byes. I left Winston and moved my
possessions north to the country of Norway. The journey had been tedious, but I had
strengthened my ability to fly, which was well worth the trip. I was alone now, on my own,
fending for myself, and I found it a pleasant state to be in. Norway was to be a suitable home,
Chapter Three
As a child, I remember hearing tales of Norns, these supernatural women who tended to
the Yggdrasil (the world tree). It was believed that a Norn was present at the birth of each child
and upon the birth, determined that child’s fate.
I remember my father speaking the names of only three Norns. They were Urd, the
keeper of fate, Skuld, the keeper of necessity, and Verdandi, the keeper of being. But I had
pushed these memories farther behind me as I sailed on. Reliving the past, a past that had
embodied so much innocence and purity could only fuel insanity in a blood-hungry monster as
myself, and I couldn’t allow myself to become infected with a troubled mind. But, somehow,
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Norway pulled humanity from me and aided me in controlling the animal that lived within.
I arrived in Norway after a long and secretive journey. I sailed most of the way and only
traveled by land when it was of the utmost necessity. I had had the foresight to make
arrangements while still in England for the building of a modest cabin on one of the Lofoten
Islands. It was nestled in a fjord and surround by rugged coastline and an almost impermeable
mountain range. I was certain of my safety and never once feared existing on my own there.
Nevertheless, I did make preparations to secure my slumber chamber. Not doing so
would have been foolish. So, I had a room built into the mountain the size of a modern onebedroom apartment in New York City, or any other large Metropolitan city for that matter. To
this room I had affixed a formidable iron door that would take the strength of at least fifty men to
Once this task was completed, I feasted on the workmen and left a considerable purse
with their bodies floating along the bank of the river. Of course all suspicion of their deaths
being brought on by foul play would be unlikely. The surrounding villages were mainly coastal
fishing villages and many of their inhabitants resided in scattered cabins rarely speaking to
families from other villages. No one ever suspected me; I had read over their thoughts just to be
I enjoyed the peace of this northern land and found a quite serenity among its fjords. I
loved how the clouds hung almost low enough to touch and how pituresque the boats were
parked in the docks in the late evening. The moon always transferred an eerie and haunting glow
onto the still waters. Oh, how I loved this northern country. It was a peaceful time, my years in
Norway. A peaceful time, indeed.
I could go on forever about the beauty and wonder of that land but I regret that I don’t
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have the time for such a leisurely adventure. Let me do say one more thing though about the
wonder of this chilly country. Its history surrounded me while I lived there. The rocks, the air,
the trees, the water – they all told this tale of an ancient civilization, an ancient time. It was the
only place in which whales sang at night and the clouds were your pillows; you truly felt
welcomed by its vast wilderness. Nature, in its infinate beauty, sang you to sleep.
But I digress, I believe I was talking about my bedchamber wasn’t I? I was fortunate
enough to befriend a local carpenter who given me a fairly decent deal on a Norwegian spruce
canopy bed. I purchased decadent velvets for the bed spreads. There were brilliant purples,
luscious golds and opulent royal blues – all gracing the delicate velvet bedding. I adorned the
head of the bed with thirty pillows of varying sizes – all of which were covered in coordinating
velvets and satins. The sheets were gold colored satin that I had carried with me from England.
Of course, the room also had the usual furnishings any mortal woman would need- an
antique dressing table, a full-length mirror and two wardrobe cabinets. And yes, despite popular
myths, vampires can see their reflections and some of us actually use mirrors frequently.
This bedchamber is where I slept away my days, safely hidden from the mortal world
and it’s life giving sun. The rest of my house was adorned with the fashions of the times and I
kept up with what little trends surfaced in the quite fishing villages through the years. It doesn’t
matter how the house was furnished, not now. This chronicle isn’t for the telling of a lamp I once
owned or of a couch I enjoyed resting upon. I just wanted to paint a picture for you, dear readers,
of what it looked like. That was all.
Let me journey now into the future, ten years after I had nestled myself into the peaceful
cabin hidden away in the Lofoten Islands. I journeyed nightly to search for prey. To avoid
suspicion, I thought it wise to never feed upon the residents in the surrounding villages. Instead, I
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would journey into the larger cities to feed and in most of these cities I held residences. In a few
of them, I truly felt at home.
In Bergen, where I would often spend the summer months, I had a modest apartment
above a quaint and homely bakery. In Bergen, I could enjoy the long rainy nights and feel the
moist rain sprinkle down on me while I stood out on my wrought iron balcony admiring the
hustle and bustle of city life. I had a fine collection of antique and handmade umbrellas stored at
my Bergen apartment and I delighted in parading around town sporting my newest one. Bergen
was one of my favorite cities. I enjoyed my nights there immensely and to this day I have a
nagging longing to return.
But there was also Trondheim, my lovely Trondheim. For every month I spent in Bergen,
I spent an equal if not longer amount of time in Trondheim admiring the Nidaros Cathedral.
Even after all these years, the nun I once was has never really escaped me. That life remains in
my soul to this day, I guess. I would sneak into the cathedral at night and light a candle for the
sisters I left behind. In those years, and in that Cathedral, I had a deep longing to return to the
convent. I longed for just a simple visit and just one more conversation with Olivia. But, for the
time being, I continued my visits to the Nidaros Cathedral and never sought out Olivia or the
convent. In all honesty, I never made that journey because I couldn’t bear to think of my friend
knowing of the monster that I had become.
So I would go to the Cathedral and nightly I would sit admiring the stained glass panes
and the strong scent of incense that would linger through the chapels. I would sit for hours in St.
John’s chapel and pretend I was still the innocent nun of my mortal youth. The priests never
noticed me lingering in the shadows. I watched them giving alms like a hawk watches its prey.
Oh, I would have never brung myself to harm one of these Servants to God, not even
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when my hunger was at its highest pinnacle. Yet, I did find the cathedral a market place for my
picking. I often hung back in the shadows and listened with my vampire ears to the men pouring
forth their sins in the confessional. It wasn’t too difficult to ascertain whether they were truly
sorry or just obtaining forgiveness so that they could sleep that night with a calm mind. I would
follow these men out, the guilty ones, the unrepented, always remaining hidden in the shadows
of the cathedral, and then lure them into my waiting arms.
I could go on all night telling you all the things I saw and did in Trondheim, but I don’t
have the time for that. The sun will be coming up eventually, and I must hurry. Forgive me.
It was in Trondheim that I met Aksel and fell in love with his strong beauty. I was
wading in the cool dark waters of the Trondheimsfordjen watching the fishermen dock their
ships while others left port. I was walking along the shore letting my bare feet tread in the cool
water when I heard the voice of a man calling for me. When I looked into the water I could see
his delicate face popping up amongst the gentle waves. If it weren’t for my vampire eyesight I
may have never seen him swimming toward me in the icy waters.
“You, girl!” His voice was playful and kind. “Stop.”
“Yes?” I said shyly, tipping my head in a playful manner.
He descended into the water and I could no longer see him. I searched the water further,
yet could not see his face. Then I saw him as he emerged from the water and came to stand in
front of me. His wavy blonde locks were dripping with water. I followed the tender droplets as
they traveled down his ample cheeks and proud chin. I watched as they trickled gracefully down
his long tantalizing neck and slowly melted into his seductively muscular chest. His legs were as
hard and smooth as chiseled marble in the moonlight and he looked absolutely scrumptious.
What would his blood taste like, I thought.
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Time seemed to stand still as we looked at each other. I could only imagine how
wonderful he might look in a room drenched in soft candlelight. Yet, the moonlight casted a
mysterious glow on his skin and I was instantly in love with every inch of him. Then he began to
speak and his words entrapped me in a spell even I couldn’t free myself from.
“What is a lady of your beauty doing walking alone along the riverbank on a night as
dark as this?” he asked.
I was overcome with the song that lived in his voice. His words were as bright as pure
light as they rolled off his tongue.
“Why are you swimming alone in the icy water on a night as dark as this?” I replied,
breathlessly. There was this anomalous feeling between the two of us, this connection that I
couldn’t explain.
He gave me a broad smile and a hearty laugh as he wrung out his chin length curls.
“Would you care to walk with me, stranger?” I asked shyly.
“Only if I can hold your tender hand.”
“Well sir, you are bold in assuming I would allow such informalities. We have only just
met,” I flirted.
“Forgive me for being so brash,” he said while turning away defeatingly.
“I didn’t say you couldn’t hold my hand, I just said you were bold in assuming I would
allow it.” With this I took his hand in mine and we walked until the dawn grew near.
We continued our friendly relationship for five months, until he began asking me the
questions I had dreaded since we’d begun our affair. I remember we were sitting in our favorite
spot near this large rock by the shore, the waves were softly crashing it. No one ever bothered us
there and only the moonlight bore witness to our conversations. Only the moon was witness to
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the love I felt for him, a love that grew stronger with each minute we were together.
At times, I thought that this love, this mortal feeling, would consume me to such a radical
degree that I would loose all control over my preternatural instincts. I was afraid I would
overtake him, delivering him either to the heavenly realm or to the undying existence in which I
reside. I felt unable to endure the moonlit night without him by my side. Yet, I was sure I
couldn’t endure immortality knowing that he was one of my kind, a fiendish child of the night
damned to exist without the warmth of the sun. But his beauty was too captivating for me to ever
say farewell to. In all reality, I loved him more than any mortal I had ever loved before.
I knew there was something heavy weighing on his mind that night when I met him next
to our rock. He was wearing this tan tweed pant with an open orange frock shirt that looked
absolutely marvelous on his physique. His large manly feet were bare, half-buried in the cool
sand. I saw him staring up into the sky long before he heard me sit down.
I never used my telepathy with him because I loved him so much. I respected him and
wanted his thoughts to be his own. Although on this night his eyes held a questioning stare, and I
felt that I had no choice but to disrespect his privacy. I stopped my mind probe though - at the
surface- his mind easily yielded to my power and allowed me to see that he had questions that I
needed to answer; questions I needed to answer if I ever wanted to see him again. This really
troubled me. Could I be open and honest with this man, this mortal? Could I afford not to?
"Bree," he began. His voice was troubled yet still calm.
He addressed me by the name I had chosen when I left Winston. I used many last names,
one for each property I owned, but Bree was always the first name.
"I am finding myself thinking of you every hour that I am without you." With this he took
my hand. "I find myself thinking of your sparkling eyes and your golden wavy hair. I find myself
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falling into a deeper love then I have ever felt."
I could see tender tears welling in his eyes and could sense the pain he felt in loving me.
"What are you trying to saying?" I whispered, not wanting to know the answer but feeling
compelled to ask.
"I'm saying that I am in love with you! I want to be one with you, forever." He dropped
my hand and stood beside me, forcing me to look up.
"Forever is a long time, Aksel." I lowered my eyes, hanging my head low.
I could hear him walk to the waters’ edge kicking at as the tiny waves came to shore.
"Only if you're not with me," he answered.
I glanced up and thanked God that the moon wasn't bright since my bloodstained tears
were already starting to flow down my cheeks. He moved towards me and I put my hand out for
him to stay where he was.
"Do you not feel the same way about me, Bree?"
I choked back the tears trying not to let them consume me.
"It's not a question of love, Aksel. We could never be together. It… it just can't be." I
noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had sat down on the nearby rock and had his head in
his hands.
“Why not?”
I knew his questions wouldn’t cease until he was fully satisfied. His love for me ran
deeper than I think he even knew. No, his questions needed answered. He needed to know the
truth, but I wasn’t ready to speak it.
"I can't explain it, my love. I just can't. It’s too difficult," I said.
I was gone before he could’ve realized I had left. What he would think of my sudden
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disappearance, I didn't care. The truth, I was terrified. I was terrified and I was alone; and I was
lonely and lost without him.
Meanwhile, the nights crept slowly by and I had returned to my cabin in the Lofoten
Islands. I could no longer stay in Bergen knowing he paced the streets nightly searching for my
face in the crowd. Knowing that he ended his searches crying at our rock depressed me even
more. This love for him was powerful and I knew that if my eyes beheld his perfect visage again
I wouldn't be able to hold back. I wouldn't stop myself. I would confess to him everything and
then embrace him. It would mean either his death or his immortality.
On the seventh night, I gained the courage to reenter Bergen. I did this mostly because I
had matters to tend to in the city and had originally decided against returning to my apartment
there. But since the night was still young after finishing my affiars, I thought there would be no
harm in doing so. I was wrong.
As soon I landed on the balcony looking into my bedroom, I saw his masculine figure
sitting in the ash-white chair that lived in the far corner. I was filled with sudden dread. Then he
spoke, and I was paralyzed.
"What are you?" he asked.
I slowly moved into the room and lit the six candles on the dresser with my mind. He
jumped in the chair from shock and I stood there just knowing everything was going to change
that night.
"It might frighten you to find out what I am," I said.
I took a seat on the edge of the bed facing him, but keeping a safe distance between us.
The smell of his blood was intoxicating and I suddenly realized I hadn't fed. He went to move
closer to me but I warned him to keep his distance. His blood permeated the air with a sweet and
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warm perfume that I wanted to devour and bring into my own.
"Bree, nothing can frighten me more than the rumors circulating about you."
I looked at him and let out a weak sigh. "What are these rumors?"
Without hesitation he replied, "The men in the tavern across the lane... they say you only
come to this apartment after the sun has set." His voice grew more urgent as he spoke. "The
couple from whom you rent this very room... they say you never request meals nor do you sleep
in this bed. They don't even know why you rent the room since you never seem to use it!"
I stood and faced the candles and then moved towards him and took his hands into mine.
"I don't care what you are, Bree. I just want to be with you," he continued.
I could sense the tears welling up in my eyes but I fought them off. I dropped his hands
and moved to the window, looked out into the dimming city below, and then I resigned that I had
to tell him my secret, for stalling would no longer do. I knew, mournfully, that this could mean
the end of our relationship and that alone filled me with great tribulation.
"Aksel... I... I am no longer alive. At least not in the literal sense."
I heard him chuckle, his strong masculine voice full of disbelief.
"If you are no longer alive than how can you be standing here in front of me? Seriously,
my love, this is utter nonsense." He laughed softly.
I turned around and met his glare and his laughter stopped. The air grew quiet and the
only sounds were the hustle and bustle of city life below.
"I'm undead." Never had I uttered my secret to someone other than Winston and it gave
me relief to have this evil veil lifted-this sickening burden spoken to another that could share it
with me.
"You are not the undead. You are not a gjengangar! You can’t be," he said.
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I had heard this term before and it’s myth circulating through Trondheim. I was hunting
in this quaint tavern in the center of town and one of the hunters, a big and burly man, was telling
a tale of this half-vampire and half-werewolf creature - a Gjengangar. I remember one of the
waitresses silencing him. She was terrified at the mere mention of the creature’s name. I found it
interesting actually, the whole charade. There I was, a vampire among them, and they didn’t
even know it. But I was not half werewolf. I was full vampire.
I used my vampire swiftness to move to Aksel’s side in a matter of seconds. He jumped
from the chair and ran from me.
"How did you do that?" he quivered.
Oh, my poor naive Aksel. How innocent was his mind. How strongly his heart beat for
truth and life.
"Aksel, I'm not a Gjengangar. I hunt on the living and dine on their blood; their essence!"
I had frightened him with my bluntness and he cowered into a corner. His thoughts told
me that he feared for his life. If I had been mortal, I too would have fear for my life at this point.
"Don't worry, my love, I would never think of harming you. You are why I wake to greet
the moon. Why I hunt to maintain my strength. It's all so that I can see you for another night; so I
can hold your hands and look into your eyes." I lowered my voice into a calming cantor. I slowly
walked towards him and knelt down to kiss his cheek, but he pulled away from me.
"How did you..." He was trembling from fear, and suddenly I realized that he had seen
my fanged teeth.
"I can read your thoughts, Aksel." I confessed as I took a seat on the bed. "I can do many
things, but you don't need to fear me. You are not prey, my love. You never were my prey... and
you never will be."
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“So, you are a Gronnskjegg then?” he asked, his voice shaky.
I had heard this term used before also. This term was the closest thing to what is now
called a vampire. It was a vampire like creature of Nordic folklore. Even though it translates into
‘ghoul,’ it’s not one.
“Yes,” I sighed. “I am. At least that’s what you can classify me as, I guess.”
Lying down on the bed, I grabbed one of the large chestnut colored pillows and buried
my face in it. I was ashamed that he had discovered my secret in this manner. I had always
pictured telling him this dreadful news by our rock or maybe while lying in each others arms
embraced in the cool sand. Not here, not in my rented room that I never really used. It all seemed
so impersonal, so cold; so lifeless and non-human.
Aksel was sitting in the corner, his knees drawn up and tucked under his chin. He was
confused and scared and I had done this to him! I had harmed my Love without ever embracing
his perfectly masculine neck with my deadly kiss.
Then, after a long silence he spoke from his corner. "But," his voice shook as he spoke. "I
I placed the pillow next to the others and moved swiftly to his side.
He continued, "I thought you loved me. If you’re what you say you are then you can’t
love. You can’t feel anything because you’re undead."
His face was buried in his hands and I knew he was crying. This prime specimen of man,
built to perfection, reduced to a pile of tears shaking in the corner like a scared cat and I had
done this to him. Despite his outer strength, inside he was fragile and soft. Seeing him broken
down was more than I could handle.
"Aksel, listen to me." I took his face directing his eyes to meet my own. "I do love you." I
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could tell this was of no comfort to him. "My Love, It was my deep adulation for you that made
me bare my soul as if you were a priest and I... a sinner coming to repent."
It was crimson tears falling to the floor now - my tears.
"Aksel, you could have easily become just another meal to me every night we met,
including tonight. But I could never live knowing I had done that to you."
I took him into my arms and let him sleep; I held him until dawn was almost near. He felt
so warm against my cold skin.
I thought he was still asleep as I stepped out onto the balcony, but then I heard his voice
whispering to me.
"Will I ever see you again?"
I couldn't turn to face him because if I had seen his loving face I knew I could never
"You will never see me again, Aksel. Not if your lucky."
With this I took to the sky and made haste to my hidden dwelling. The next day I would
leave Bergen and never return. I couldn’t face him, not now that he knew what a monster I was.
But would he believe me? He probably wouldn’t. After all, who would?
I arranged for any remaining personal belongings to be sent to my island residence. At
the time, I thought I had taken every precaution in securing secrecy concerning, but I was later to
learn I was wrong.
It was only seven weeks after I left Aksel and his temptingly masculine arms, that I
received a telegram nailed to my door in the early morning hours. I found it after feeding and
was shocked that someone had journeyed to seek out my cabin, for I very seldom had any
visitors and when I did they were only hunters. Hunters were my favorite meal, actually. Their
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blood is full of fat making it taste earthy and sweet on my tongue.
But, I digress, I believe I was speaking of the telegram. It had been written on what
looked like old parchment; its edges slightly burnt. It was wrinkled and carried various stains and
spots. A simple "To my beloved" graced the outer envelope and had been penned in a delicate
cursive script. I sought out my cherished sage velvet armchair in the corner of the living room
and dared to open the mysterious telegram. Then tears began to fall from my eyes as I read the
My Beloved Bree,
Days have passed slowly since you left me. Now that I think upon this... Days have
seemed to creep away ever since I had the pleasure of meeting you because I couldn't wait till
nightfall so we could be together. But my nights, since you’ve left, slip by minute by tender
minute and all I can do is lie here thinking of you! Oh, the agony I’m in!
I didn't know what I would ever do loving you so much and with such great desire. I
thought death would be my only escape. But then I heard rumors in the pub, and a flicker of hope
sparked in my shattered heart. People were saying that the mysterious lady who inhabited 1222
Highwater Lane had left Bergen and made arrangements for her belongings to be sent to
Trondheim. I visited the couple from whom you rented your room and they gave me an address.
I journeyed to Trondheim - half the way on horseback and the other by carriage. It was a
difficult journey in the cold winter, but I finally made it. You weren't there and neither were your
belongings. I was confused, my Love. I was hurting and longing for you. I ached for you.
I inquired at all the local pubs and inns and the only information I could obtain was that
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the “beautiful lady hadn't visited her grounds in over a year.”
I was at a dead end until a young lad sent a note to my hotel room asking me to meet with
him and his mother the very next day in the hotel's lobby. I anticipated this meeting, for his note
read that he had information concerning your where abouts.
My Bree, I was in ecstasy when I met this child and his mother and heard what blessed
information they gave me. They were the caretakers of the estate while the owner, you, my Love,
was away. They gave me an address for a fisherman that they had been instructed to send your
belongings to as promptly as your packages arrived in Trondheim. With the next available
carriage I was on my way to Harstad in search of this man.
I assume that if this letter finds you, then the old man kept his word. I entrusted this
document to him and he promised to deliver it on his way out to sea.
My beloved, I am staying in Harstad. Search the minds of the city’s inhabitants and I'm
sure you will find me. I will sit by the shore every night waiting for you. Please come or I fear
that I might carry myself into the ocean and drink of its deep blue waters forever.
With all my love and all my life, I am eternally yours,
Finishing the letter, I let my fingers trace over the writing. I could feel him waiting for
me; longing for me. I knew his love was stronger than the curse I carried in my veins. I knew his
love was the love I had longed for for centuries, the love I needed. His love needed last and so
did his beauty and his passion. Yes, it was to be. It had to be.
I remember rising from my chair, looking around, and seeing that even with all the
precious things I had acquired through the centuries, I was still alone. I had everything I could
have ever hoped for, except him. But he was waiting for me; he loved me despite the monster I
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was, despite the animal that raged within.
I went outside and stood under the winter sky. Looking up, I beheld the starlit night sky,
and I took to the air in search of him.
I began to tremble as I spotted him walking along the shoreline; letting his feet drag in
the icy water. I wasn't sure what I would say or what he would do, but I walked towards him
with waiting arms.
"Bree..." I heard him whisper as he spotted me coming towards him.
"I'm here, Aksel. I'm here."
I stopped unable to go any further. Emotion welled inside me and with it a flood of tears
stained my cheeks.
He came towards me. "Bree, I tried so hard to convince myself you were gone, but I
couldn't live with that. I can't erase you from my life. It's not that easy."
I stood and embraced him and softly whispered into his ear, "But... can you die... can you
die to live with me?"
He stepped back and looked into my eyes and I could see the pain in them, the agony, the
longing, and the misery.
"Could you, Aksel? Would you become a monster, like me? Would you give up the
morning, the golden sunlight, and the pleasure of its tender rays on your face? Could you give up
your life to be with me for eternity? You’ll never have children. You’ll never have a legacy. All
you’ll ever know is the darkness of night, for eternity. The nighttime, Aksel; it never ends."
I went to wipe away my tears, but he took my hand before it could reach my face. His
other hand reached up and wiped away my tears.
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"When you cry, my Love, I’ll be there to wipe away your tears; now and for eternity.
Nothing else matters, can’t you see? You are all I ever wanted and if I can’t have you, then I
want nothing, not even this life." He knelt down and kissed my quivering lips.
"Will you have all of me, Aksel? All of this evil curse?" I asked.
He grabbed me and pushed my body firmly against his. I could feel his heart beating and
the heat emanating from his body. His embrace was comforting and I never wanted him to let go.
Into my ear he whispered, "You can have me, Bree, if I can have all of you."
I pulled away and gazed into his eyes. They were as mysterious as the moon was the
night we had met - full, round, and magnetic.
"Then we will be together forever, for eternity. I will not lie to you, Aksel, there is going
to be pain – pain like you’ve never felt in your life."
And that was how it went, the night I made Aksel a creature of the night. The details of
his transformation, I will never know for sure. After giving him my miasmic blood, I took to the
air and waited for the howling to stop. I never asked to know what it felt like for him. That's his
story to tell and maybe some day he will tell it.
More interesting than the story of Aksel’s transformation is the story of our immortal life
together, and that is what I truly wish to tell now. But I must make it brief if I am to finish telling
this tale in time for the sunrise. I don't have long, I'm afraid.
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Chapter Four
We lived together for an amazing sixty-one years, longer than any human marriage I’ve
ever heard of. We remained in Norway, living in all of my estates and hosting some of the
countries grandest balls, until 1458.
After centuries of peace among the fishermen along the Norwegian coast, the peasants I
employed throughout my various estates began hearing tales coming from Europe of actual
vampires. With these horror stories, rumors of a Lord and Lady who prowled the night feasting
on the blood of innocent Norwegians circulated through the many towns we inhabited. We paid
the rumors little attention until one night, after feeding, we returned to our sprawling estate near
the edge of Trondheim and found it engulfed in flames. Aksel wanted to stay in Norway; pick
other cities, ones we had never inhabited. But, I no longer felt safe there and wanted to flee
Scandinavia for good.
In the fall of 1458 we packed our belongings and fled the land that had constantly
enveloped me with its magical beauty. It was so difficult to leave and yet, I felt we had no other
choice. Aksel grew to resent me for this. Although I had never forced him to come with me, he
felt that his love for me would be enough, but he never stopped loving and missing Norway. I
didn't blame him when he left and I don't blame him now. But, I can't tell you the end of our love
affair until I expand on our life together. I will take you now to the country of Hungary and to a
city named Budapest.
Over the next twelve years we traveled through Europe, wandering through the larger
cities to feed. I enjoyed absorbing the cultural aspects of each city. I savored the architecture, the
art, the music, and literature of each city and each country. Aksel and I got along marvelously
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although I could sense the resentment that he felt for me growing in intensity each year. While I
enveloped myself in each new culture, he longed for the culture of his mother country. Time
couldn't erase the love he had for Norway and it's people. Countless times had I told him of the
loss I felt after leaving monastic life and even of the greater loss I felt when I had left my family
to perish with the evil plague. None of this seemed to help though, and he took to slipping in and
out of trance like states of utter depression and despair.
Eventually we ended up in Budapest. We had been traveling along the Carpathian
Mountains, sleeping in caves and abandoned mines. It was in the winter of 1470 when we
entered the city. I remember the smell of paprika permeating the air as we flew over the
buildings and the people.
I returned to the frozen earth near the outskirts of town and there stood in front of me a
simple cottage in desperate need of upkeep. We ventured closer to the cottage and I could see the
source of the voices that I had heard from the air. In front of a fireplace stove were seated an
elderly couple at a round rickety table. They appeared to be consuming a stew like meal from
their earthenware bowls and the smell of paprika was in abundance.
I had been watching the couple eat for several minutes when Aksel announced that he
was going to hunt.
"Alone?" I had turned to him with concern. He had never expressed a desire to hunt alone
before. We never seperated, there was never a need to before.
"Yes, alone. Is this a problem?" he asked.
I walked up to him, slowly and with concern as if he were a rabid animal about to bite.
"No, no it's not a's just that you have never really expressed a desire to hunt alone," I
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This request had definitely caught me off guard, to say the least. I didn't know if I should
worry or shrug it off and assume he was in one of his moods and just let him be. He turned and
began walking towards the city.
"Must I express a desire to do something?” he sighed. “Where can I find you when I’ve
I turned around and began making my way back towards the house. "I will wait for you
in the tavern on the north edge of town. You will find me."
And with this he was gone from my sight. I watched the couple for a while longer. They
finished their meals and went to bed. When I left, the fire was dying out and I could no longer
smell paprika.
As promised, I ventured to the tavern on the north side of town to wait for Aksel. I
couldn't sense him near and I was slightly worried. In all honesty, I thought he had left me for
good. He had threatened to leave before, but he never did. I thought he needed me. All this time,
I thought that he would be lost without me. It was with this first solo hunt that our problems
really began.
I had seated myself next to a warm fireplace in the farthest corner of the tavern. Finding a
long wooden bench near the raging fire, I sat and removed the hood of my fur lined, emerald
green cloak and took a seat in between two burly poor excuses for men. I remember one of them,
the smelliest and nastiest of the two, calling me a "tempting Lady." Needless to say, I silently fed
from him without his drunken friend ever knowing. When I finished with him he merely looked
asleep, peacefully asleep in a drunken stupor.
It was near dawn when I had left the tavern to return to the cave we had found earlier
when I spotted Aksel across from the tavern sitting at the base of a tree. He was wearing this
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strikingly red outer jacket and a crisp white shirt underneath. His tanned leather pants fit snugly
around his legs and buttocks accentuating the masculine musculature of his body, making the
attraction I felt for him renew.
His head hung low as if he were searching the icy snowflakes that had gathered on his lap
for some kind of meaning or purpose.
I stooped down and kissed the top of his head. "Do we need to talk, my Love?" I asked
He looked up and I could see he was lost in sorrow, desperately needing to be rescued.
"Perhaps we should." I held out my hand and he took it as he rose from the ground.
"Then let us talk tomorrow. The sun is nearly here and you need your rest," I said.
We walked back to the cave and slept in each other’s arms hidden safely from the light of
morning. When I awoke the next evening I left him to finish his slumber and quietly made my
way out of the cave. The sky was ablaze with the twinkling of a billion stars and the sight of it
was beyond perfect. I took to the air and went up, high into a nearby tree, and sat on one of its
stronger branches.
I stared into the night sky wondering if this would this be my last night with Aksel? If so,
would I ever see him again? Did I have the time to memorize his face; every line; every
imperfection? I knew I would miss him like the night would miss the moon if it ever failed to
rise, but I wasn't sure it would matter any. Surely, if he meant to leave, he had made up his mind
by now. I didn't think that this was something he hadn't been pondering for awhile. In all
honesty, I didn't know what would happen when he awoke. All I knew then was that if this was
the end, I couldn’t imagine how I would endure it.
Then I heard his whisper from the mouth of the cave and it startled me.
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"My Love?" he said into the night air.
With much apprehension, I slowly glided down from the branch and landed softly in
front of him. I was standing there beholding the creature I had made so many years ago. How
striking the Blood had made him. Not a single wrinkle past his prime yet, the magical blood that
flowed through his veins had given his strong features a soft edge. He looked magnificent under
the moonlight, truly magnificent.
"Are we to talk now?" he asked. He walked to the base of the tree and looked at me
waiting for my answer.
"If that is what you wish, Aksel, then we may talk now." I was sure he could sense the
sorrow I felt.
"Please know I love you. I always have and I know I will never stop," he began.
I was facing him now; tears forming and ready to break free. "Then...then you do intend
to leave me?" I could no longer hold the tears back and they came like a tidal wave gushing free
from my eyes.
"I do. I intend to return to Norway, with or without you. I’m sorry." He was holding me
now; holding me tightly as if he would never hold me again. "You know it's for the best, my
I pulled away. "For the best? How can you leave me and say that it's for the best? How
can you think not being together…" My voice trailed off. I was so upset that my throat
completely closed up and the words refused to break through. He moved to embrace me again,
but I pulled away. I folded my arms and turned away from him.
"Then go with me! We can live the life we once lived. The life we lived in the beginning.
Remember the houses? Remember the parties, Bree? Remember how happy we were?" I felt him
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place his hand on my shoulder but I couldn't bear to turn around and face him.
"You would want me to return to a people who shunned our kind and set fire to my
property?" He gave no answer and I knew he had sat down on the snow-covered ground. "Would
you really expect me return to such a horrid place?" I asked.
For a long time neither of us said anything. I just stood there silently staring off into the
night sky. And then his voice broke the silence.
"A horrid place? Is that what you really think of my home land?" He grabbed me from
behind and spun me around to face him. "Do you despise me as you despise my ancestors, my
beliefs.... The land I love?" He had let go and walked away from me. His back was to me and I
knew he was full of rage.
“Don’t be so dramatic, Aksel. I do not despise your beliefs or the land, but I refuse to go
back to that life. We had to be so careful, always on our tiptoes, Aksel. I can’t live like that
anymore, that’s why we left!” I screamed back at him.
“Well, this life isn’t cutting it for me anymore. I can’t keep roaming the Earth like a
vagabond,” he replied.
"Funny, I thought you loved me or was that a lie?" Now I was the one alive with rage.
My words cut through the air like a knife. I was hurt and the tears that were falling on my cheek
did little to hide this fact. I bowed my head trying to hide the truth from his watching eyes.
"Do you think I am leaving because I no longer love you?" He came close enough to
whisper in my ear.
"Why else would you leave?" I asked.
My anger, my hurt, all the walls that I had built to protect myself from pain, they were
crumbling now. He embraced me tightly and I saw that he too was crying. Then he whispered, "I
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still love you. I'll never stop, you know this."
We stayed this way, embraced under the moonlight, for hours. I find it difficult to
measure time from a human perspective really. It could have been minutes, hours, days... it's all
the same to someone who lives with no end in sight.
Eventually I broke the silence, the peace. I had to, really. "Then why are you leaving?
How can that place mean so much more to you than me?"
He pulled away and looked at me tenderly.
"Because, Bree, I must." He held me again and we began to sway with the wind. "But I
don't have to leave just yet. I guess," he said softly.
This brought both tears and a smile to my face and I could tell he was delighted.
We lived as a couple again only now I knew he would eventually leave and I would once
again be alone. What I thought would last forever wouldn't. Such a sad end really.
Over the next seventeen years we were happy, well mostly happy. The fact that one-day
he would shatter my world was awful. I was constantly living knowing that he may not be there
when I woke. Then one day, in the summer of 1475, I awoke and he was gone. He never
returned. I had no warning and it was probably best that way.
It took centuries to get over him; I never really have completely. I never will. That’s the
beauty of love, I guess, you never forget.
I lived in Budapest amongst the circulating rumors of vampires, werewolves, and other
abominations for the next thirty years. There were countless mortals I fell in love with over that
brief period but, after Aksel, I promised myself that I wouldn’t create anymore of my kind. There
were moments, brief and fleeting moments of weakness, but the love was never strong enough
for me to curse them with this gift of immortality.
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I enjoyed my existence, as it were, among the elite of Budapest. Oh, how often did I hear
from countless suitors how I should be wed. Those poor men, how little did they know when
they came in to my wanting arms. How little did they know when I drank from them, when I
brought them to meet their maker? How short their lives were. What a pity, really.
Besides the joy of feeding from these mindless suitors, I delighted in sneaking into the
Royal library at night when no one visited its spacious halls. I soaked up the knowledge in those
books. Some were so ancient, even older than I was. Some were new and contained new places
and ideas, various schools of thought.
Budapest had become a Mecca of renaissance culture and a magnificent center of
learning. I considered myself fortunate to be living in such a place and in such a time as this.
And I must not forget the thermal baths that I believe still remain. They had been established
around 1541 when the Ottoman Empire occupied Budapest after conquering Hungary in 1526. I
loved to soak in the hot thermal bathes and listen in on the conversations that floated by. The
heat of the water energized my icy veins and the steamy vapors gave a special glow to my ivory
But let me skip ahead, I'm sure there are a vast number of books on Budapest; this story
isn't really for that.
I was preparing to travel to an unknown destination when a letter came, deterring my
wanderlust. It came by currier and there wasn't anything special about the outer envelope except
that it was marked as being sent from Oslo, Norway. I knew it had come from Aksel, I could
never forget his elegant penmanship, and I was delighted.
The note was short and simply read:
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I will come for only a short time. I desperately need to meet with you, to talk with you.
Look for me on the third night of the New Year.
I was deeply perplexed by this bizarre letter. What did it mean? Was he returning to me
for good or for merely a visit? And why now? I decided to postpone my plans and await the
return of my beloved.
I waited for the answers to my questions. But above all, I waited to feel his tender lips on
mine, to feel his masculine grip around my slender waist. I longed to be with him once again, to
be with him forever, and to feel the passion of his love. But I knew this wouldn't be. I knew I had
changed and he had probably changed as well. Nevertheless, I waited for the third night of the
New Year to come and for the return of my beloved. I held no expectations and kept my thoughts
on him closely guarded.
I arose on the third night and he was no where near. I could not sense him. I could not
hear him. Resigning to the fact that he may not come at all, I took up an old volume of poetry
and decided that reading would be a more valuable waste of my time. It was medieval poetry love and chivalry and knighthood. I took it from a box of dusty books I had already packed and I
sat down in my library and began to read.
The passages were bleeding into each other by the time he showed up, pristine in a
dazzling suit. There he stood as breathtaking as he had always been, dressed in an elegant
gentleman’s dusty gray suit, which highlighted the innocent sparkle in his eyes.
"Who do you have with you, Aksel?" I laid my book on the side table and gracefully rose
from my seat. He looked shocked as if I wouldn't know someone else was among us, another
vampire of all things.
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"Don't act so surprised. I could hear her thoughts before you were even near my
property." I moved to embrace him. "You really must teach her to guard her thoughts, Aksel. If
you expect her to survive around others, that is."
"Then she may come in?" He looked almost frightened to ask such a question.
"Of course she may enter. Your children are always welcome in my home."
“Honestly, Bree, I wasn’t sure if I was even welcome in your home,” he answered, shyly.
I searched his face. I knew more than he could imagine I knew. This young one he had created,
her mind was an open book.
"No need for petty lies, Aksel. I know she is your new love." I said as I took my seat.
Now he really did look frightened. He motioned for the girl to enter and I invited him to
take a seat on one of the only couches that hadn't yet been packed away.
"Did you come all this way to hurt me?" I asked.
It was an honest question and I required an honest answer. His female companion entered
the room and took a seat next to him. She must have stood only five feet tall and was dressed in a
ruby colored gown and a floor length black coat which was buttoned to her neck. She had a
rather delicate childlike face, round glossy green eyes and perfect, straight black hair that fell
over her meek shoulders. She was so young... oh, so young.
"I would never seek to hurt you, Bree. Surely, you know this?" he answered.
I searched her face and her thoughts as he dribbled on with this nonsense. Her thoughts
spoke to me so clearly and she didn’t even know it. Don't hurt me... don't hurt him... help us,
please. Help us? She was genuinely afraid, afraid of something.
"Aksel, I want the truth, why are you here?"
He began to speak but I cut him off.
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"Thirty years have passed since you departed and now, suddenly, you have returned?
Don't think me a fool, her mind has spoken the truth already," I said, waving my hand casually
toward the girl.
With this he gave the young one a questioning look. Something was brewing between the
two of them, something mysterious and treacherous. Or, maybe something innocent and pure, I
didn't care which. I had very little time for games anymore.
I stood and stretched my fingers making the knuckles crack. This made her jerk.
"Why did you bring me this young one, this Evelyn?" I asked. I heard the tiniest of gasps
escape from her pretty little mouth and I turned to face her. "My dear, you do little to guard
yourself. I plucked it from your mind with very little effort."
This was definitely not the reunion I had envisioned.
"Speak, Aksel. Why did you bring this child to me?"
He was visibly shaken and unnerved which made me wonder what, exactly, was the
reason for this reunion. This insolence was annoying! My voice grew in intensity, "Tell me now.
Tell me or I shall kill her!"
I swung my arm towards her and concentrated. Slowly she levitated and, as I continued to
move my hand up, so did her body. I looked directly at him while maintaining my hold on her.
"Speak or she will die!" I shouted to him. The sight of me enraged visibly frightened him.
"You wouldn't harm her," he said. His voice was shaky and I couldn't believe he was
testing me.
"Much has changed, Aksel. You would be surprised how much time can change a person,
how time can erode one’s patience." I released my hold on her and she fell to the floor. "Now, I
employ you, tell me why you have come." I retreated to my armchair and gestured for them to
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return to their seats.
"It's a long story, Bree. I'm not quite sure where to begin," he began. I crossed my legs
and shifted into a comfortable position.
"Then, start in the beginning. We have time... that's all we have in this world... after all," I
"Well, after we parted," he began.
At this statement I flashed a coy smile n his direction. "After we parted? Don't you mean
after you left me? After you fled without saying goodbye?"
The girl, this Evelyn creature, she had a confused look upon her face. It made me wonder
what version of our farewell he had told her.
"Yes, after I abandoned you and returned to my homeland." He was staring off into the
vastness of time as if he were searching, searching for that one moment when he decided to leave
without any warning, without any good-byes. He dared not to look my way. "Well, I became
"You became lonely? If this was so, then why did you not return to me?" There was a
slight hint of sorrow mixed with the anger in my voice. I fought the tears trying to form in my
"Would you have taken me back?"
His question was genuine. Time hadn't erased the damage his leaving had done. I stood
and went to the window. I couldn't endure one more glance in his direction. His sweet face
created a cascade of emotion in me - hate, love, pain, and desire – and they all surfaced when I
looked at him.
"No. It wouldn't have been the same. You hurt me when you left. With the passing of
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time, though I’ve grown to forgive you. But there’s still a piece of me, a tiny piece hidden deep
in my soul – if I still have a soul, which aches. But, it’s a dull ache and so we can now be friends,
I think," I answered, still looking out the window.
The truth can really hurt sometimes. I had said my peace and I had no need to continue
the conversation if he wished to pursue that issue.
"So," I quickly took my seat. "Why are you here now?" I looked at the both of them.
Evelyn's mind was telling me she needed to feed and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for
Aksel and I to be alone. "Aksel, I suggest you send Evelyn off to feed. She is famished." With
this, he nodded in her direction and she began to take her leave from us. I believe the poor girl
was relieved to be leaving the tension that circulated the room.
I sent her a mental message that caused her stop at the door and respond; "I will stay
close and not feed in the village. You have my word." And with that she was gone.
"Why did you bring her to me, Aksel? I know this meeting isn't to catch up on lost time.
You want something." I stood once again; I felt powerful standing over him. I felt commanding.
"I can no longer care for Evelyn." I searched his face for meaning but found none.
"What do you mean you can no longer care for her? Is she really in need of a care taker?"
He stood and began pacing around my library; his hands in his pockets and his bottom lip
curled under his teeth. "Unfortunately, yes."
"Care to explain?" I asked.
He sat back down on the couch and ran his fingers through his hair. "Bree, she's was only
fifteen when I made her."
I closed my eyes in disbelief. "Fifteen?" I sighed. "What possessed you to make one so
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"I was walking along the road that led into Oslo from the north, you remember that road
–we used to hunt there - it was there that I found her. She had been abandoned and was laying
along the side of the road, bleeding and in severe pain." His voice began to trail off.
I leaned forward and took his hand. "And you couldn't end it for her?" I could see tears
forming in the cracks of his eyes.
"No. I could not." His voice was nearing to a whisper as he went on. "There was
something about her, Bree. Something… familiar." He looked up and I could sense both pain and
guilt in his soft eyes.
"Familiar?" I asked.
He continued with the story, "I couldn't leave her to die nor could I kill her. I took her
home with me and entrusted my housekeeper with her care during the day."
He sighed heavily and continued, "It took over a week, but eventually she healed to full
health. One evening, upon returning home, I was informed that she demanded to speak with the
Master of the House. She was throwing things at the housekeeper; refusing to eat." His voice
began to trail off again.
"Then what happened?" My question jarred him back to reality. He rose and began
pacing the room.
"My nightmares came true, that's what happened." He had stopped in front of the
fireplace and leaned against the mantle. "She knew who I was - what I was." I rose from the chair
and went to stand near him.
"How?" I asked. I watched him walk towards the window.
He glanced out the and then continued with his story. "I killed her mother, that's how."
He bowed his head in guilt.
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"I thought you found her on the side of the road? You then went and killed her mother?"
He looked me directly in the eyes. "The night before! I was hunting... no where near the
city. I was hunting on that road." His voice started to trail off so I touched his hand, startling
him. I lead him over to the couch and urged him to sit and continue with his story.
"I was walking through the woods, as I do on most nights, and I heard, in the distance, a
carriage of drunken men singing on their way towards the city," he paused. "It is my fashion to
haunt this particular pathway. The legend of a blood-thirsty hound that stalks the road at night
has haunted all who pass that way." I caught a coy smile form on his lips, but it quickly
"On this particular night I caught a scent lofting from this carriage,” he continued. “It
wasn't the smell of rum or the atrocious odor of tobacco originating from the two putrid drivers.
No. It was the smell of a ladies perfume, the sweet odor of sugarplums and violets. The smell
reminded me of you." He looked up and smiled.
"Me?" I asked embarrassingly.
"Yes... you." He took my hands gently into his own and laid upon my cheek a delicate
kiss. "Anyway, as I approached the carriage I heard the voices of two women, one older and the
other of middle age perhaps, and then the tender humming of a child."
He released my hands and withdrew into the memories of his guilt ridden past. "I
stealthily climbed up a tree and in a matter of moments, I was upon their group. The two men
were a synch. They were so drunk; swimming in cheap rum, their bodies I threw effortlessly
from the carriage. But, then as I was finishing with the second one, from the carriage emerges
this woman. She started cursing at me, holding up a crucifix. I threw her into the air and she fell
near the side of the road dying almost instantly. It was then that I sensed a large group of people
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coming up the path. They were coming quickly. I took to the trees and made for my resting
place." He lowered his head and sighed. "The next night I returned and there was Evelyn."
"Was there sign of her carriage?" I asked.
I rose from the couch and began pacing around the room. "How about the older lady?
Was there no sign of her?"
He shook his head, "No." He was silent for a few moments. He was lost in thought, his
head hung low, and his hands were covering his eyes. "She was raped and killed, the older lady.
Her grandmother." I closed my eyes in disbelief. "The approaching crowd had been a group of
bandits traveling to Oslo. After killing the grandmother, they raped Evelyn and hid her in the
bushes leaving her for dead."
I shook my head in horror. "Humanity can be such a cruel, vindictive race." I had spoken
those words with no hint of remorse.
"Then you no longer consider yourself human?" he asked. His words rattled me a bit. I
hadn't really thought about it for such a long time.
"I guess I don't."
He continued to stare into the fire. "Then, I guess, we both have changed. We are no
longer the people we once were." I saw the tiniest smile fall on his lips.
"No, Aksel, we are not." I returned to my chair and sat with my elbows resting on me
knees. "And then?" I prodded.
He sat back and sighed heavily, as he had always been accustomed to doing while telling
a story. "I took her to my estate and left her in the care of my housekeeper. I hired the best nurses
and doctors Oslo had. Eventually she regained her strength and then she recognized me as her
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mother’s murderer. The poor girl never saw the worst of this situation coming at her. She was
pregnant," he said.
I shook my head and frowned. "How did she take all this news?"
He glanced towards the window. His stare was vacant as he beame lost in the past. "She
took to her bed in agony and grief. I don't blame her. She refused to eat. She attempted to escape
but was caught. Eventually, she grew to like me. The larger her stomach became with the tender
child inside, the more I dotted on her. Anything she wanted was hers. But then in her seventh
month she went into labor and delivered a stillborn baby girl. I think I grieved as much as she
did.” He paused and took in a deep breath, fighting back the tears. “There were complications
from the birth. It had lasted too long the doctors had said. The bleeding couldn't be stopped. She
would’ve die within hours." I offered him a handkerchief to blot away the tears.
"You must understand Bree, I couldn't understand why she should die. I couldn't allow
that to happen." He closed his eyes tightly and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.
"I offered her a chance to die and be reborn. I shouldn't have, but I did. She begged for me to
save her. She begged with her dying breaths to be saved. She knew the monster I was, she knew
this curse, and she wanted it. So I made her into the creature she is today. I made her out of
selfishness because I was not strong enough to live knowing I had allowed her to die."
"We all have our demons, Aksel." I offered my open arms to embrace him, and he fell
into them eagerly.
"Would it be possible for you to care for her? To be her mother?" he asked gently.
I pulled away. "I am nobody's mother and I don't wish to become one now."
He looked out the window into the twinkling nighttime. "She is returning. I can see her
coming over the hill."
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I leaned against the stone mantel with my arms folded across my chest. "What makes you
think she desires a mother?" I asked. He continued to look out the window.
"She misses her mother. I hear her some nights, crying. She watches other mothers and
daughters. It's just a hunch, I guess." He moved away from the window and directed his attention
towards me. "Will you take her, please? Teach her to be a lady? Parade her in the courts?"
I thought on the proposition for a few moments. "I'm sorry but I can not do this for you,"
I replied finally.
He stormed towards me with his voice raised. "Of all the times I’ve needed you, this is
the most gravest of times." He fell into the couch and buried his head in his hands.
"Gravest of times? What aren't you telling me, Aksel? What is wrong, my old friend," I
"I can tell you what he will not." Evelyn opened the door and made her way into the
"Please do, Evelyn." I took my seat and gestured for her to do the same. Aksel remained
on the couch with his head buried in his hands.
"First, let me apologize. It was my idea to come here; to seek refuge with you." I nodded
for her to continue. "I feel that I am safe in assuming that Aksel told you of the circumstances
surrounding my creation. So, I will not reenter into those murky waters."
Aksel stood and moved near the fireplace rubbing his hands over the fire for warmth. He
was fidgety and suddenly filled with sadness, and he was not hiding from me at all.
"I will make this short and sweet,” she continued in her youthful tone. “I was hunting one
night when I came upon a camp of miscreants and vagabonds. I only sensed three travelers so I
thought I could easily take the camp by myself. The first man was simple. He had been sitting
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near a fire and I was able to sneak up behind him. He was dead in a matter of seconds. Then I
made some noises to lure the others out of the tent. When they came out, we both recognized
each other. In a moment of panic, I ran off."
Aksel seemed to be staring off into space.
She continued, not even glancing in his direction as she spoke to me, "We took care of
the pair eventually, but not before they made it into Oslo and spread word that I had killed their
companion. And worse, how I had killed their companion."
I titled my head back. "How inconvenient for you."
She nodded and then continued, "We thought we could simply kill a few people and the
rumors would end there, but the moment I was seen in Oslo people recognized my description
and cursed me as a demon. We realized then that the problem was unfixable."
I nodded. "So, you two came here seeking asylum?” I asked.
Aksel rejoined the conversation with a simple, "Yes."
I stood and began pacing about the room, as was my custom when faced with difficult
decisions. "And what, Aksel, are you planning on doing if I grant your request?"
He turned towards me. "I will say goodbye to Evelyn and return to Norway." His words
were dry and lifeless, but I knew them to be true.
"That’s exactly the answer I was expecting,” I replied, shaking my head in disbelief.
“Evelyn, as much of a delight that it would be to travel with you, I must refuse." I glanced in her
direction. Her expression remained calm and still.
"Refuse?" His words were shaky and dripping with rage. "Why would you refuse her?
Can you not do this one simple favor for me? For me, the one you once loved?" He collapsed
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onto the couch burying his head into his hands, muffling his words. "Can you not grant me this
one wish, Bree? In your heat of hearts, can’t you please take care of her?” He layed on the couch
and folded his arms behind his head and I knelt down beside him and gently moved my fingers
through his hair.
"Aksel, I would give you anything in the world, but I can't give you this. I can't take her
with me," I said letting a few silent moments to pass before I continued. “She’s fleeing for the
same reasons I fled Norway and still you wish to return there. You don’t flee with her. Why do
you hang onto a place, a simple place, as if it were the only thing that mattered in the whole
world? I never understood that about you. I probably never will.” I shook my head in disbelief.
He had no reply for me.
"Then, what is to become of me?" Her voice cut through the silence like a warm knife.
"You can stay here," I answered as I continued to delicately caress his forehead with my
"But, I can't! I don't know how to live on my own!" Her voice had grown panicky.
When I turned towards her, I could see tears forming in the creases of her eyes. I stood
and embraced her trying to bring her some comfort. Her tears began to flow making streaked
stains on the back of my white satin blouse.
"I can't live alone... I don't know how... I never have," she cried. Aksel had already risen
from the couch and was looking out the window, avoiding her tears. I could sense that this hurt
him greatly; he didn't want for them to be separated, he truly didn’t.
"Aksel, would it be so terrible if you delayed your return to Norway? At least for a
while?" He turned around and his face had a confused look upon it. I gently pulled myself away
from Evelyn and helped sit her down on the couch where she continued to cry softly into her
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delicately folded hands.
"I don't follow you, Bree," he said.
I walked over to a box marked 'linens' and pulled from it a cotton handkerchief, handing
it to Evelyn. She began wiping away her tears, regaining her composure.
"Aksel, would you consider residing here and continuing to care for Evelyn until she
feels ready to go on her own?" I asked. He looked at her.
What a picture she made sitting on the couch, pouring velvety red tears into my
handkerchief. She was innocence. She was purity. She was I when I had been turned. Time
would take its toll on her, I was sure of it. Time would erase that innocence and corrupt that
purity. Time would turn her into a monster like it does all of my kind, eventually. Time; even
though it no longer poses a mortal threat, will always be an enemy.
"Is this what you want, Evelyn?" he asked her.
She glanced up from the thick veil of tears. "Of course it's what I want! I don't want to be
separated from you... ever! You are like a father to me. You’re all I know." She ran towards him,
wrapping her arms around his robust frame.
"Then we shall remain together,” he told her, as I watched them holding each other. It
was so beautiful and innocent. She was truly his daughter and he her father. I was no longer
needed in this equation and I needed to be on my way soon.
I interjected their rejoicing, "I will be leaving then, tomorrow evening. Until then, you
may slumber with me in my crypt." I began to circle the room, blowing out the candles and
locking the windows. I was preparing my home for the dark night as any mortal would.
"Thank you for your hospitality, Bree, but I must deny your offer." It was she who talked
now making Aksel flash me a surprising look.
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"Excuse me?" Aksel said, his tone filled with curiosity.
"When I was feeding I found an abandoned cellar. I will be sleeping there," she informed
him and then she started to move towards the hallway leading to the front door.
"Then, we shall see you tomorrow evening before you leave," Aksel said. With this, he
began to follow her out until I could no longer see the two of them. They remained outside on the
tiny porch attached to the house. She was saying something and I closed my eyes and
concentrated on her words.
"I can handle this one time alone,” she was saying. “You would leave several times and
for a couple days at a time. I slept without you beside me then and I will do so tonight." He was
mumbling something, but she cut him off. "Listen, you need to be with her one last time. You
may never see her again. Do you really want to pass up this opportunity?"
I heard him say "No" and then the sound of my front door opening. Then it began. The
last night we would see each other. The last night we would lie in each other’s arms. The last
time I would feel his lips on mine.
She left, walking swiftly away from us and he watched from the door as she disappeared
over the hill. I left him, standing in the hallway, and began putting the fire out. It was a few
minutes later when he walked into the study with an uncomfortable look on his face. I glanced up
quickly and then returned to the task at hand.
"I guess it will be the two of us tonight then," I observed.
He fumbled with his hands while he sat down. He had a habit of fumbling with his hands
when he was nervous. "Yes, it seems we will have a reunion after all."
I finished with the fire and took a seat across from him. "Tell me, Aksel, do you still
require a long slumber?"
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A tiny smile began to crack through his agitated face, easing him a little. "I remember
those days." A small chuckle escaped. "No. Actually, I tend to retire just as dawn is approaching
I smiled and took up my book from the side table. "Then we have plenty of time. Shall
we take a moonlit walk?" I stood and offered him my hand.
"I haven't enjoyed the company of one so lovely as yourself for a long, long time, Bree. It
would be such a sweet treat to walk by your side under this mystical moonlit night," he said as he
rose and took my hand in his.
With this we departed, walking hand in hand under the moonlight as if we had never
parted company so long ago.
We walked for as short time, the moonlight casting a romantic glow on our path, before I
stopped near the edge of town and sat him down beside a bed of violet and ruby peonies, their
sweet perfume giving the air a romantic ambiance. Surprisingly, Aksel leaned over and grabbed
onto me pulling me into an embrace. I could feel his hot breath caressing my neck.
His hand slowly slid up my thigh, his middle and index finger gently pressed into my
skin, leaving a tingling trail of ecstasy as they circled their way around my leg. I gave a brief
moan and leaned into him, titling my head back. His breath became quicker sending goose
bumps down my body in passionate waves. His fingers began making their way along the tiny
curve of my waist.
"Aksel," I managed to squeak out from behind my awkwardness.
"Shhh. Just enjoy it." His voice was soft yet commanding.
He began kissing at the nape of my neck filling me with ecstasy. Oh, how I had missed
the warmth of his lips on my cold skin. He moved to my mouth and turned me around in his
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arms so that I could lie next to him on the damp grass. I felt Heaven in his lips when he kissed
me and I began to cry. I held onto his kiss for what felt like an eternity until I pulled away and
looked into his eyes.
"Why are you crying, my sweet Bree?" He began wiping the tears from my cheeks with
the palm of his hand. "Did I offend you? Was I too forward with my affections?"
I looked into his hypnotizing eyes and smiled. "Your affections were just, my Love." I
laid my head on his shoulder.
"Then why are you crying?" he asked.
I held onto him tightly as if I would fall to my death if I let go. "My tears fall because I
have been reminded of just how much I once loved you." He continued to hold me as I looked
into the night sky searching the stars for meaning.
"Loved? Does this mean you no longer love me?" I could hear the hurt in his voice, the
"No. I loved you before you came to me tonight. I will remain loving you when I leave
tomorrow," I whispered into the night air.
He turned on his side and faced me. "You know, all these years, yours is still the face I
see before I fall asleep." He gave me a soft and tender kiss on my cheek.
"We will always be connected then, my Love, because it's your face that I see when I
close my eyes at night." With this we kissed and all things were forgiven; all hurts healed.
We wasted the remaining hours of moonlight lying in each other’s arms before hiding
from the sun kissed hours of day. So much got completed in that short night. All the history
between us had been sorted and our problems forgiven and forgotten. Even when you live
forever, life is still too short to not forgive the ones you love.
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I left the next evening, taking only what I needed and leaving the rest behind for their
enjoyment. Our parting was extremely difficult and I almost stayed, but we both knew this could
never be. We had both changed far too much to live as we once did. We promised to stay in
contact but, as the lines of time continued to grow, so did the space between us widen once
I still have the orchid ring he gave me that night. He had slipped it on my finger as we
laid there staring into the night sky. "Because your beauty is like an orchid and shall never fade,"
he had whispered into my ear. His words had always been beautifully spoken. He was a poetic
lover and whenever he opened his mouth to speak, the words were always dripping with magic
and mysticism.
Chapter Five
I thought that was going to be my great love affair, my first love of this life. But I was no
longer the same woman who fell in love with the stranger on the beach. I was far from that now.
Even farther away was the child in the convent saying her rosaries and mopping the sanctuary
floor. My sordid past still haunted me to some extent and I traveled to rid the memories from my
I traveled to Italy and watched Michelangelo begin his artistry on the Sistine Chapel. I
journeyed around Rome and haunted the Vatican's halls. I watched the Pope give evening Mass.
But, all this brought forth the painful memories of my pre-vampiral existence and sadly, I could
not remain in Rome for long.
I continued to travel the countryside of Italy for the next twenty years until I began my
exploration of the frozen northern country of Russia. It was in Russia where I enjoyed prosperity,
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wealth, and the riches of elite friendships. It was in Russia where I truly felt at home, and I
hadn’t felt ‘at home’ in a very long time.
My journeys in Russia were extensive, to say the least, but I found complete fulfillment
in the city of Tver. I settled there, in 1528, after three years of roaming the Russian countryside.
What made me stay? Once again, it was the company of a young man. By now you probably
assume that I fell into an uncontrollable love with this man and made him into a vampire. This,
my readers, would be a wrong assumption. I will tell you the story of my years in Tver. What
would a chronicle of my "life" be if I did not include every major event? Plus, I can't leave out
the twins. No, I could never forget Anastasia and Aleksandra and of how much the later means to
Let me begin in Russian, in the city of Tver, in the year 1528. So much history and so
very little time to give the years justice, but I will try.
Upon entering the city and acquiring a residence, I made a name for myself. I would
boldly enter into the finest balls and announce myself as Duchess Bree of Canterbury. Seeing
that only a select few in the city had ever traveled more than thirty miles from their homes, my
disguise was never disclosed. Within no time, my presence was being requested at every ball in
the city. I usually attended two to three a night, making brief visits at each and then deciding
which one to devote my primary attention to.
It was on one of these evenings, when I attended a Grand Ball to mark the beginning of
harvest, that I met him. His name was Pavel Vladislous and he was a man whom embodied
nobility, sexuality, and passion. His hair was as black as coal and was loosely pulled back and
held in place by an ornate barrette adorned with a garnet dragon. His chin was proud and
dominating and perfectly accentuated his masculine cheekbones. He had a nose, which gave
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definition to his firm countenance while softening his smoky ebony eyes. He had been elegantly
dressed in ash gray satin pants, black boots, and a black uniform dress coat with rich Russian
embroidery gracing the lapel, and he stood a dominating six feet tall and was lean yet muscular.
His tight dress coat hinted at the muscular feast that hid beneath the layered fabric.
As he moved toward me, two strands of his black locks fell from the barrette’s hold and
created a seemingly exotic aura about him. He was mysterious and sensual. He was a fine
specimen of man, indeed, and he was to be mine until his sad demise. Why did I not save him
from taking his final breath? Well, I will get to that mystery in due time. Let me begin in the
beginning, which is the only appropriate thing to do.
"May I have this dance, Madam?" He extended a gloved right hand and I shyly accepted
his request.
In no time we were waltzing around the Grand Ballroom and it felt like we were dancing
on clouds. Unlike Aksel, I did not feel like putty in his arms. I felt invigorated and infused with
passion. I felt alive. I felt like a caged tiger being released into the wild.
He whisked me around the ballroom, my long, white satin gown swaying as we turned
with the music. The violins grew from piano to fortissimo and the horns increased in speed. He
flung me around the dance floor, holding me tightly to him.
"My dear lady, the smell of your hair is intoxicating." He looked into my eyes as the
music began to slow in its rhythm.
I felt this immediate surge of electricity course through my body as he looked into my
eyes. He pulled me closer to him. It felt like a warm wave passing through me leaving behind
this blissful lingering essence. It was magical to say the least. I had experienced nothing of this
nature with Aksel. Yes, Aksel made me feel comfortable and safe. But Pavel made me feel
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sensual, powerful, and in control; he made me feel feminine.
We danced for hours without stopping; both of us transfixed by the other's sensuality.
Over the course of the evening, we had moved closer and closer toward the edge of the ballroom
where there hung a large tapestry depicting the summer solstice. While looking over his
shoulder, he lifted an edge of the tapestry revealing a small hidden door. From his right breast
pocket he slyly pulled a brass key, unlocked the door, and beckoned for me to follow him.
"What is it you wish to reveal to me in here, most noble sir?" I pushed him down onto a
cot in the rear of the tiny room.
"My, my. You are a feisty one, Madam." He pulled me down on top of him, his
masculine arms wrapped tightly around my slender waist. He began to lay sensual kisses up and
down my neck. "May I have your name?" he asked.
I began kissing his neck now and our breathing become heavier creating a hot mist
around that enveloped us. "Why?" I whispered into his ear teasingly.
"I would like to know who I am taking advantage of." He flashed me a playful smile and
then laid upon my lips a fiery kiss.
"Believe me, Sir, I am not the one being taken advantage of." He stopped his kisses and
looked into my eyes. His left hand moved to my face. He brushed my hair back and gently kissed
my cheek.
His breath was hot and moist on my ear as he whispered into it, "You may be right. I
think you have me bewitched.”
We continued to caress each other with little nibbles on the neck and earlobes. His right
hand moved along the lacing of my bodice as he flirtatiously tugged at the strings. Then he
suddenly stopped and pulled away. I propped myself up on my elbows and cocked my head
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giving him a flirtatious “come-hither” smile.
"Shhh. My Temptress." He began to light the two tall candelabras that stood framing the
secret doorway.
I began to slowly untie the lace holding my bodice together. He watched me as he lit the
candles, looking back at me as I toyed with him. I watched as he tugged on the door making sure
it was locked.
"Come here, my prey." I gave him another “come-hither” look as I ran my index finger
into the crease of my bosom and seductively licked my lips.
"Are you going to eat me, my little vixen?" He came to the bed and stood over me.
"I just might have to, actually. You look so tasty!" I said. I slowly pulled him down until
he was hovering over me dominatingly.
With one hand holding me down onto the bed, he slowly undid the lacing on my bodice.
My now exposed bosom appeared pale; the effects of my evening feed were slowly wearing off.
I closed my eyes as he began lying upon my breast long and seductive kisses. His tongue slowly
circled my nipples, one by one, until they were hard little nubs hungry for his kiss, his teeth
playfully biting at them. He made his way up my heaving bosom to my neck. I tensed under the
touch and he paused putting two fingers to my throat.
"You have no pulse!" He quickly sprung from the bed staring at me. "How can you not
have a pulse? Does my touch not warm you with desire? Does it not cause your heart to race?" I
calmly sat up and began to replace my bodice and straighten my hair. He knelt down in concern
"Are you ill?" he asked.
I looked at him. His eyes were so innocent and full of concern. "Mr. Vladislov, I am not
ill. My pulse is there. Here," And with this I took his hand and place it over my heart. “See, it’s
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only weak.” His hand pulled away and he blushed. He reached down to assist me as I rose from
the bed.
"How did you know my name? And why is your hand so cold? Even the skin I touched
was cold. No, not just cold, but like that of someone dead,” he said. I smoothed the wrinkles in
my dress.
"I know much about your family line," I responded. "I have eyes in dark places and ears
in quiet halls. I know every step you make, can hear every breath you take, and can taste the salt
on your skin from across the room. And I'm cold because I will it." I moved toward him and
removed the key from his pocket without him ever knowing.
I went to open the door and he laughed, "You have no key, my dear."
With this I produced the key, winked, and unlocked the door tossing the key back to him.
"I believe this is yours!" He placed the key in his pocket.
"You're a sorceress! You bewitched me with your spells!" And with this I left him
neither acknowledging nor denying the claim.
And so it began another magnificent love affair; one that lasted over thirty years. And it
began three nights later, after our initial meeting. I was invited to the wedding of Pavel's sister
Natalia. The ceremony was to be held at nine o'clock in the evening and rumor told of an
elaborate feast that was to follow. I commissioned a gown to be made for the special occasion. It
was to be a silver A-line with white organza bell sleeves and outlined in delicately sharpened
crystal ice icicles which made a sound when I walked through the room which would mimic the
wind coming through a window on a slightly breezy day.
On the night of the wedding, the whole town of Tver was a buzz making final
preparations for the ceremony and the grand wedding ball that was to follow. As a nun, I saw
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marriage as the perfect merging of two souls becoming one beautifully formed couple. As a
vampire, a creature of death and habit, I viewed marriage not with the religious optimism I once
possessed. As a vampire, marriage was the next step, simply put. You were married, you had
children, you worked, and then you died. You were then released from this eternal cycle of life
through death. You were freed from the bounds of slavery this Earth created. As a vampire you
are never released from this existence; you're caught in the net and the only escape is a plunge of
suicide – a plunge few have taken.
But, I was talking of the wedding of Natalia and of my maturing relationship with Pavel.
The evening was magical, to say the least. The sky was obsidian; the dark clouds over shadowing
the tiny moon in its constant orbit. The night air was chilled which felt good on my skin. I loved
the sensation of goose bumps crawling on the back of my neck and my arms. It gave me a sense
of euphoria.
I arrived on the outskirts of the castle making a subtle, and hopefully concealed, entrance
from the sky. I approached the castle trying to steer clear of the several carriages that had
gathered to drop off various dignitaries and nobleman. I sensed this strange presence, as if I was
being watched. I shrugged it off, and began making my way through the gathering throng and
into the castle.
The castle was a splendid example of gothic architecture. Its high vaulted ceilings and
stained glass windows almost reminded me of a church, but the scenes weren't Biblical. As the
line slowed in its movement, I ventured to one of these windows for a closer examination. It was
a pixie, of all things, perched upon a mushroom cap and sitting with its knees bent and thinking.
What an interesting picture, I thought, as I ran my fingers on the lead outline of the creature's
wings. It was beautiful and simple, like a child's smile.
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As I lingered there, admiring the pixie window, I once again felt the strange presence
only this time it was stronger. I moved my hands to my sides, perhaps as if preparing for a fight,
and I slowly turned around. It was then that I beheld the source of the strange feeling and I was
no longer on guard and I moved forward with my arms open for an embrace.
"Winston! Oh, my Winston!" There he stood decked out in a velvet indigo suit looking
exactly the same as I remembered him looking.
"My sister! Anice, I've found you!" He held me so tightly, I feared he would never let go.
But the longer we stood there the longer I didn't want him to let go. It felt so comforting being in
the company of my brother once again, so familiar.
"Oh, how you haven't changed!" He loosened his embrace and I slipped away.
"And you my sister, you’re still as innocent as the night I took you from that convent," he
said with a large smile gracing his face.
I returned his smile. "I'm not as innocent as you remember."
The line began to move and we followed pretending to be human as if we were children
playing a little game.
"Listen, we have much to catch up on. I know of your estate and will come to you
tomorrow evening. Is this acceptable?" he asked.
He kissed my cheek as I whispered "I would love that" into his ear.
I watched as he meandered his way through the crowd. I couldn't fight the smile that
stretched itself from ear to ear on my face. It was like a part of me had been found a piece of me
that had been missing far too long. Time couldn't erase the closeness we shared. The bond
betweens siblings stretch beyond time and limitations.
Through time I have observed humanity. I've observed the relationships’ human’s form
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and why they do so. The most intriguing relationship I have found is the bond between an older
brother and his sister. It's this unspoken love that ties the brother to his sister with a protective
rope of sorts. How many times have you seen a brother defending his little sister against some
schmuck boyfriend or a group of juvenile ruffians? I felt this bond reunite when we hugged. It
was as if our souls were saying "You're home. You're safe. You have each other and that's all
you need."
I could have watched him walk away until he was merely a speck in the blackness of
night, but another man was approaching me and in this man I sensed jealousy and anger. I turned
to face Pavel, working his way through the growing crowd. His face bore a smile, but his mind
told me that smile was a farce. I closed my eyes and journeyed into his mind. It was heavily
clouded and I found it difficult to read but, eventually, the message did come. “Who was he my
little sorceress?”
When I opened my eyes I realized he had forced the words into my mind; he had wanted
me to hear those thoughts. He came upon me greeting me with a kiss upon my cheek as if we
were old friends. I could have acted as if I weren't reading his mind and I had not received the
mental message, but I didn't. Instead, I played his game.
With my mind I projected into his own, “are we jealous?”
He gave a deep sigh, as if preparing for battle then he threw back, “Who was he?”
It occurred to me that we must have appeared quite odd, two people standing in front of
each other and no oral conversation transpiring. "I wish you had come sooner, you could have
met my friend," I said this aloud and he followed suite.
"Your friend? I don't think I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him before."
The crowd began to move and we were getting closer to the front of the chapel. We
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would be seated soon. I moved closer to him, whispering in his ear, "He is not in competition for
my hand, Pavel. You don't need to prove yourself."
He grabbed my arm, forcefully. "I will decide when and if I prove myself for your hand,
my dear lady." The line had begun to move again.
"Pavel," I whispered. "Don't be a fool! He could kill you and never have to leave his
He looked at me and his cocky macho grin began to fade as I flashed him a severely
serious glance. With this, we made our way to the chapel door and were seated promptly in the
most uncomfortable wooden pews in Russia. The wedding, itself, was a spectacular expression
of wealth, as are all weddings, and the rest of the evening turned out to be a charming and
pleasant waste of time. Winston was not brought up by either of us and it seemed Pavel had
forgotten the whole matter.
When the hour was getting late, I thanked the bride and groom and prepared to leave.
Pavel, who had been dancing wildly with his young niece to some fast and furious waltz, saw me
walking out of the ballroom and heading for the exit. He stopped dancing and immediately ran
after me screaming my name, but I pretended not to hear. In reality, I could have heard him in a
room full of twelve hundred more people, but I didn’t want him to know this.
I heard his footsteps getting closer and closer. His steps were so vulgarly manly; so heavy
and without rhythm, but still with so much passion to them. Then he became too close for me to
ignore and I stopped when he yelled for me again. I was at the bottom of the stairway into the
castle and I turned around. He stood at the top, not even fully out of the main gate.
"My sweet, you were about to leave and I wanted to bid you a good night." He started
walking down the steps, slower now and with more rhythm, which I liked to see. He took me
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into his arms embracing me in a tight hold.
"I can't believe I almost left without saying good night. Will you ever forgive me?" I
smiled my innocent little smile, the one that always turns men into putty. He reached down and
laid upon my lips a fiery kiss.
"Don't dwell on it, my sweet," he said.
There we stood under the moonlight saying our goodnights. I drew him down again and
pressed my lips to his and he received my kiss with his own. I took his hand and led him to the
bottom step and we sat down on the cold stone. For what seemed like only minutes, but was
more like a half an hour, we sat together on the step trading passionate kisses and watching the
throng of well-wishers walk off into the moonlight.
"Won't you stay with me tonight? I could warm your cold skin... put color into those
cheeks," he said. I smiled at him and looked up at the moon beholding how bright it seemed.
"Yes, you could warm my skin, but...not tonight." I stood and began walking away.
"I want to see you again!" he called out to me as I made my way down the long walkway
letting my dress whip about in the wind.
"You will. I will come to you on the fourth night of the new month. Look for me in your
chambers when the moon has risen full in the sky." And then I was gone, far from his sight.
The next evening I awoke and, not having the need to hunt, I lingered around my estate. I
played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on the grand piano and worked to perfect my violin
playing. The household staff enjoyed my mini concert immensely and applauded vigorously. I
then ordered for a large fire to be made in the library so that I could read near it. After this was
done, I settled into my high-backed Italian leather armchair and thumbed through a book on
Anselm of Canterbury's philosophies.
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I‘ve enjoyed reading about philosophers and their philosophies ever since childhood.
Aksel enjoyed discussing Plutarch and Aristotle, but I enjoyed debating the religious
philosophers. This always turned Aksel away since he was unfamiliar with the Catholic religion.
In all honesty, he never fully grasped Christianity. He was too tied to his Norse gods: Balder,
Forseti, Odin... the whole lot of them. Aksel was tied to everything to do with his past and he
always will be, that’s just who he is.
The evening air was growing chillier with every passing hour. I ventured out into my
lavish gardens and began feeding the fish in my pond. I tore off bits of stale bread and dropped
them onto the still water watching the fish clamor to the surface. The moon wasn't as full as it
has been the night before, but it was just as bright and bold in the starless sky.
I missed my blanket of stars. I would always go out and lay in my garden and stare up at
the night sky. I loved knowing that these were the same stars I had watched journey across the
Heavens when I was just a child. I found it comforting that these same stars would still be there
in another one hundred years. When everything around me changed these little points of light
stayed the same. When you live for eternity and you see the passing of time, the rise of new
governments, new technologies, the fall of societies, you grasp onto anything constant and
unmoving, and you never let go of it.
I had been admiring the crushed blue glass that lined my garden path when Ruth, my
housekeeper, announced that "a very handsome man" had come to call on me. I felt awful for I
had not been attentive and his rapping upon the doorframe had awoken Ruth. She came out into
the garden holding her robe from flapping open in the breeze. I had a feeling it was Winston
since the hour was so late.
"I'll tend to our guest, Ruth. You get yourself back to bed," I had said to her as she made
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her way back inside the darkened house.
I went to the front hall where Ruth had left the caller. Her husband Jeremy, my butler,
stood guard making sure the visitor was not here with an ill intent. I thanked Jeremy for his
protection, which I didn't really need and kindlydismissed him. He was such a sweet man,
Jeremy. Old, but kind, and he still had a few good years of service left in him. When I saw
Winston standing in the front hall it was like old times. I ran forward and embraced him
"Oh, my brother, I can hardly believe this is you! That you are here!" I smiled as we
greeted each other.
I led him out into the garden where I had placed several candles around the edge of the
pond, which illuminated the grounds beautifully. He sat down next to me on an iron bench that
was on the edge of becoming over run with ivy.
"We have so much time to catch up on, brother, where shall we begin?" I smiled
"I don't know where to begin. So much has happened since we parted." He began playing
with the ivy - twisting it and pulling the leaves off of their stems.
"Let us begin in the beginning then," I said. He looked rather surprised.
"The beginning? When I first made you?" he asked.
I chuckled. "Oh, heaven's no, we would be here all month! No, begin when we parted.
What did you then?"
He talked of the cities he had seen; of Paris, of St. Petersburg, and so many others, I
cannot possibly recall them all. He talked of the lovers he had and of how he almost made each
one into "one of our kind." I asked how he had stopped himself from doing so and he told me he
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left them, just left them right then and there without any explanation. I found this practice rather
cruel and I told him so. He said that he thought that I would come to that conclusion and this
made both of us laugh.
I asked then if he had ever created a companion for himself and he said he had. Her name
was Bethany. She had been a servant in Paris. Her owner had been cruel to her. The man had
beat and raped all his servants and didn't care who knew. He was a vile man, a putrid excuse of
humanity. Sadly, I knew the kind all too well.
He carried on for hours telling me stories like this. He told me how he had saved Bethany
from being killed and how he had cared for her and finally made her into a vampire. She was no
longer in the picture though. She didn't last long was how he put it. She had found no comfort
from her past, even after taking the life of her raper; Bethany couldn't fight off the depression.
She took to the sun. It was quick and effective and he scattered the ashes the next evening. It hurt
me to hear this and it hurt me more to watch him tell it, to see the tears rolling off his cheeks and
to see the pain in his eyes.
"After this happened, my world was crushed." He wiped the tears away from his eyes.
"It's understandable, Winston." I tried to give him comfort, but he shrugged me off.
"There's more I need to tell you... more you'll want to hear." I gestured for him to go on.
"After I lost Bethany I began my search for you. I visited the convent where I found you." His
voice seemed to trail off. There was something he didn't want to tell me and I hoped he hadn't
harmed the sisters in any way.
"What did you do, Winston?" My voice grew loud and my words laced with anger.
"What did you find there?"
He held a hand to my shoulder to calm me. "Nothing, dear sister, nothing... I did nothing
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to them."
I sighed with relief. I couldn’t fathom what my actions would’ve been if he would’ve
laid a single hand on my former sisters. "Then why does it sound like you’re about to give me
bad news?" I asked.
He hung his head low and turned away from me. "Anice... Bree... whatever you are called
now... I went there in search of you. I thought that maybe you would have returned there or lived
in the surrounding communities. I thought, perhaps, there was a slim chance you went back there
to protect your fellow sisters." He sighed and then looked towards me and took my hands into
his. "Darling sister, there was a cloud of death hanging low over the convent that night. It pulled
me to it. It had come to collect the one once called... Olivia."
I gasped. "How? Um... when?" My eyes were becoming clouded with a teary mist and I
let go of his hands to wipe at the tears.
"I was searching their minds, hoping for a glimmer of information pertaining to you and
then I heard it, ‘I want Anice. I want Anice!’ She was screaming from her deathbed. No one
knew to whom she was speaking. There was no Sister Anice and not a single one of them had
been named that before taking their vows. So, I searched her mind and I saw you, a mental image
of you before you took your vows."
I was crying now and I couldn't stop the tears even if I wished them to stop. "How did her
life end? Was it peaceful? Did she suffer, Winston?" I asked. He handed me his hankercheif, but
only more tears came when I wiped the old away.
"Yes, it was peaceful... in the end," he responded and I immediately looked up at him.
"What do you mean 'in the end'?" I asked. He shut his eyes as if sheilding them from the
sight of death itself.
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"Her death was preceded by violent attacks, Bree. It began with a seizure. She had
recovered and the doctor gave her a clean bill of health. He said all she needed was relaxation.
But, then she had another and another, and eventually it totalled five. Then her eyes failed her
and she was left blind. Months later, when things looked stable, she began suffering from
convulsions. They thought she was possessed and so they had a priest bless her room. This didn't
help though. Her convulsions began coming more frequently and her hearing was slowly failing
her," he paused, his voice growing softer. "The night I came, the night she passed, was a peaceful
one though. No convulsions. No seizures. Her ears heard perfectly. But, she was calling for you.
She was reaching into the dark void and trying to find you."
I was staring off into the blackness of night not wanting to accept this, but knowing that
he had spoken the truth. "It was peaceful then?" I managed to say with my shaky voice. He
"Do you want to know what her last words were? What she spoke before the last ounce of
breath escaped from her lips?" he asked gently.
I sat there, thinking. Did I? Did I really want to hear the words her heart had spoken
when she was about to be released from the binding ties of life? Did I want to know the words
she spoke before meeting her maker, her Groom?
"Yes, I think I do," I responded.
He turned and faced me making sure his eyes looked into mine. With sympathy he spoke,
"She called out for her friend, for you."
I closed my eyes. "She called for me to come? Then she wasn't in her right mind when
she passed was she?" I stood. My body could no longer sit with the weight of this news bearing
down upon it.
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"No, she was in her right mind." I looked at him questioningly. He continued, "She said,
'I am coming home, Annice. I'm coming, prepare my room, and prepare my bed. We shall feast
together at His table tonight!'"
I was so confused. "What did she mean?" He rose and stood beside me.
"Don't you see? She thought you were dead; already in Heaven waiting for her."
With this I broke down. I screamed her name into the night. I screamed and cried so
loudly that I woke the house staff. I beat upon my chest and when Winston stopped me from
doing so, I beat upon his. I was inconsolable and was in utter despair because I hadn’t been on
the other side waiting for Olivia, waiting like I should’ve been.
It was Winston who dealt with the staff. He told them he had brought bad news from my
family, among other lies. He sent them back to bed and away from the sight of my bloody tears. I
hid in the moonlight mourning her.
I learned one lesson that night. Mortals are indeed mortal and they die just as the season’s
change. You may never know what death will leave behind, the feelings you encounter after the
loss of a loved one, until you actually loose that person. For the longest time I was in a state of
utter distress and Winston watched over me, caring for my affairs. I would’ve withered in the sun
if it hadn't been for his loving attention. It took everything in my being to rise with the moon and
make it to my chair in front of the fire, which was always lit for me now.
For months that's all I did, stare into that raging fire. I hated death and everything it
embodied. I hated myself because I brought death to so many. I refused to feed for weeks and
would become so weak that Winston would have to bring me a victim because of my refusal to
hunt. I made a promise to myself, a blood oath, that I would live off the Living Drink (as I liked
to call them) and never again take a human life to feed my own vile existence. I would use the
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Living Drink getting what I required then, while the victim was still in a daze, Winston would
dispose of them. I knew he was ending their lives, but as long as I didn't see it, I didn't care. Out
of sight out of mind - as they say.
I was like this for months, as I have already stated. During this time Winston sat by my
side nightly, as if he stood vigil over my deathbed, and told me more of his life since our parting.
It was comforting to know I had this link to my mortal life with me once again. I treasured every
precious minute of our fireside conversations. Hearing his strong voice reminded me of our
father and the stories he had always told us when we were children. It seemed like a different
life, my mortal years, and indeed, I guess they were.
But, I almost forgot about my handsome Pavel. He had come every evening and I had
instructed Winston to turn him away. He told him I was ill, but then Pavel demanded to sit at my
bedside until I regained my health. He told him I was mourning the loss of an old friend and
Pavel tried to assure him that he could comfort me. Winston kept insisting that nothing could
comfort me and would always send him away. It finally took Winston, brazen and bold, to
explain to him that I was in complete distress and refused to see any visitors, including him.
The day after Winston had rasher harshly banished him from the property; I received a
letter from Pavel. He wanted to know why I had refused to see him. It also contained many "I
love you's" and a few "I miss you's," but those I skimmed over. I had no interested in love right
now. I was in no mood to toy with some handsome mortal who had no clue just how short life
was and just how easily I could take it away from him. So, I stayed in this depression for months,
only allowing my maid and Winston to tend to my needs. Most of the time I just stared into the
fire without much expression gracing my ashen face.
Then, one evening, as I was coming to terms with the depression that plagued me, I told
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Winston I would go into town and feed for myself. I wanted him to join me, of course. I needed
him to join me, actually. I was too weak to journey off on my own, too disoriented. I dressed in
an off white gown with light salmon pink trimming. I wore my hair long and neatly combed with
the sides pulled back and held in place with a dragonfly barrette. It was a gorgeous pin and
Winston recognized it almost immediately.
"Is that the barrette I gave you?" he asked.
"Yes, it is." He shook his head in disbelief.
"How have you managed to hold onto it all these years? I thought the convent made you
part with all your belongings." I looked his way and smiled.
"Yes, they did, but I managed to keep a few things...hidden," I said.
He shook his head in disbelief. "You know, the more time I spend with you, the more I
can't believe some of the things you do."
As we walked the darkened streets of Tver, watching the snow fall and collect on the
cobblestone streets, I realized that I had no clue what the day was, or even the month. It was as if
time had been lost to me forever. I turned to face Winston, who looked rather striking dressed in
a red velvet three piece suit, and I was shaking like a scared little child.
"Bree, are you alright?" He was holding me, trying to calm me. I was filled with remorse
for the time I had surely lost.
"What month is this?" I asked. I knew my disposition appeared rather alarming, but I
could find little solace in knowing this and frankly, I was in no position to care.
"It's December. Why?"
"December? DECEMBER!” I could hardly believe it. “December!" I screamed as I
pulled away from his grip and threw my hands into the air. He started explaining something, but
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I cut him off. "December! Are you telling me that I was so lost in mourning for Olivia that I let
six whole months slip by? How can time have just vanished like that so quickly, Winston? It
seemed like only a few weeks."
“You were in a state of deep despair, Bree. Time has a way of slipping by unnoticed
under those circumstances,” he said calmly, as if he were trying me that this type of thing
happened all the time.
I could do nothing to cease the bloody tears that started cascading down my cheeks. He
removed a handkerchief, a silk and ornate handkerchief, and graciously handed it to me. I
admired the beauty of the little cloth and couldn't bear destroying it with my crimson tears.
"Bree, no one forced that veil of depression on you. You simply became unable to care
for yourself until it lifted. No one could determine its duration but you. Hell, half the time you
just sat there staring into the fire like a zombie!" He was kicking at some pebbles, his head
hanging low and his hands tucked away safely in his velvety pockets.
"Thank you for caring for me, Winston. It means so much to me, more than you can ever
know. Your reappearance into my life was a blessing, brother. Even if it brought me the sad
news of how Olivia passed from this life. But for now, I must be alone. I need to visit someone someone forgotten by me in my sadness and despair." I turned and began walking away as I
wiped the tears from my face.
"Are you going to see Pavel Vladislous?" he asked. I froze in my tracks.
"Yes." I could hear his footsteps coming up behind me and then I felt his firm hand come
to rest on my shoulder.
"His mind still searches for you - in the moonlight. Sister, be careful. He loves you so
passionately yet, he is betrothed to another... an Austrian." I was thankful for this information,
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but it wasn’t going to deter me from seeking out Pavel.
“I must still go to him. Wait for me at home. I won’t do anything rash.” With this I was
gone, walking eagerly down the path. I never looked back.
There it stood, so foreboding and ever so present in the eerie moonlight. Pavel's castle,
his home, and I was lurking near the estate yet, keeping a safe distance. I had no desire to kill
some innocent mortal who may have been patrolling the grounds. Most of the castle windows
were darkened like the night sky, but a few were illuminated softly with soft, yellow candlelight.
I searched for him with all my mental capacity. With my back pressed against the rough
bark of a stately Oak and my eyes closed, I searched for him seeking out his soul - his heartbeat his essence. Finally I had him, and the vision was the most comforting thing I had seen in
months. He was alone, writing something on parchment in front of a raging fire. The orange
glow from the flames framing his face handsomely.
He was in front of the third window from the left with his back to the wind. It was open,
the window, and its balcony was uncluttered except for the inch or so of freshly fallen snow that
had piled on it from the evening’s snowfall.
I landed on the balcony and he was none the wiser. That is one of the Blood Gifts I still
treasure to this day. In a matter of seconds, literally seconds, I can jump or fly a short distance
and no one would hear me land. My victim none the wiser to my presence. I could be on them in
mere seconds and their life drained in a matter of minutes. They would never know. But, I'm not
evil like this; it is not my nature. There are some vampires, the evil of my kind, which are
bloodthirsty vengeful killers. They make a sport of it, finding their victim, usually some
unsuspecting Good Samaritan, and then they drag out the kill for as long as their victim’s heart
will beat, taunting them the whole time.
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My whole existence hasn't been love and tears though; a dark cloud permeated my sky
once and I will tell that story later, when the time is right. There is evil in all of us. It’s
everywhere and vampires can do little to escape from it.
Where did I leave off? Oh yes, I was on Pavel's balcony about to enter his room, his
private space. I didn't wanting to frighten him by entering boldly and without his consent so, I
made my presence known.
"Pavel," I spoke softly. "May I enter?"
He jerked around nervously and then jumped up and froze. It was as if he saw a ghost,
and perhaps he thought he was. I repeated my request and then he walked towards me, eyes filled
with surprise and his mouth open in shock. I took his hands and kissed his lips, tenderly and with
much caution. They were sweet and soft, and they were still hot like melted wax. Just as I had
"Are you real? Are you really real?" He had my head in his hands, cradling it gently.
"Of course I'm real!" I hugged him tightly.
"I've dreamt of you almost nightly. It's been so difficult waking up every morning
knowing it was only a dream. I didn’t want to wake up as long as my dreams were filled with
your face, Bree. But you were never in my bed when I woke, just a cold and empty space. And in
the moonlight I would search for you. I came to your estate for a while, almost religiously, but I
gave up when I saw you a had a new lover." He let go and moved over to the fire using the heat
to warm his hands. I laughed loudly and had to stop myself.
"I have a feeling you are referring to Winston," I replied. He couldn’t understand my
amusement. He thought Winston was my lover, someone coming into my life to replace him.
"If that is his name, than yes I am referring to Winston. He sent me away; told me you
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had taken to your bed over some disturbing news! I knew it was a brush off. I knew that you
loved him - I sense things and that was something I sensed when he told me that he would take
good care of you- that you loved him and that he loved you," he said with great sadness in his
voice. He was trying to look away, trying to hide his tears, his anger. He looked so fragile, so
easy to brake, to destroy. His mind was hurting and his soul was splitting into two.
Tugging his arm, I pulled him close to me. He tried to fight, but my strength over
powered him.
"My dear Pavel," I said while looking into his eyes. "Winston is my brother. You are my
only Love."
He pulled away and smiled. "Your brother?" he asked. “He’s your brother?”
I laughed softly and answered, "Yes. Do you really think I could ever replace you?" I
hugged him tightly feeling his heart beat with excitement while his mind was filling with relief.
"I didn't know, Bree. I mean, I wasn't sure." I could sense the relief he felt. His words
weren't as sharp and jagged, as before; now they were more fluid and light as if each syllable was
floating on a cloud. "I didn't know I meant that much to you, really," he continued.
"Pavel, our souls are one. I knew that the night we met. You and I share a passion that
can not be matched. My mind has been made up since that night. I will be in your life until death
comes and takes you from me," I whispered into his ear, my breath making the hair on his neck
stand as my words traveled into his waiting ear.
"I'm relieved. I thought I was the only one who felt this...this connection we have," he
said as he took a seat in an antique gilded arm chair near the fire and began rubbing his hands
over the flames.” So now what do we do?"
"We begin a grandiose love affair. We enjoy the moonlight together, laugh together, and
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love each other. Enjoy what some never have, true companionship," I answered him.
He turned towards me and I could sense the flickers of remaining unease in his mind.
"Must we always meet in the moonlight?" I moved towards him and took a seat closer to the fire.
The fire warmed my body. The heat was pleasurable.
"It must be...always in the moonlight," I answered. I rubbed my hands over the fire
enjoying the heat as it warmed my icy skin and sent waves of warmth through my body. The
flames were crackling and popping beneath me.
"Why must it be, my temptress? I would give all the wealth in my vault to see your
beautiful face in the soft light of the morning sun. I dream of seeing you bathed in golden
sunlight. And yet, I wake up and it’s day and you are no where to be found. Then when the moon
comes, full in the sky and casting it’s eerie glow on the land, you show up as if you materialize
from thin air." He stared at me now expecting answers, answers I couldn’t give.
"I can't give you the answers you seek just yet. I'm not ready too. But just remember,
every night I will be here by your side until the day you die, and even then, I will be here to hold
your hand until your soul is delivered to the angels." My words were spoken tenderly and with
much love and I meant every word. In Pavel I saw a passion, a power, an evanescence, and I
knew that I would be his secret love for as long as he walked this Earth. It was to be because it
had to be; it was just that simple.
He stood and moved towards the bed. "Come and lay in my arms," he gently
How could I deny such a request? I went to him and we layed in each other’s arms. His
heartbeat was strong and powerful and for the first time, I craved his blood. I knew it would taste
luscious and thick swimming in my mouth, but I restrained from tasting his essence. I restrained
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out of love for him and this would be the way it would always have to be if we would be
He began kissing the back of my neck, his lips soft and luscious on my skin. His thoughts
spilling like a waterfall. I want you. I need you. I want to feel the warmth inside you. I want to
touch you. Stroke you. I want you to know how much I hunger for you.
"But, you're to be married. I heard so this very evening," my voice quivered. His dark
eyes seduced me. That marriage means nothing to me. You are my temptress. She is nothing
compared to you. I closed my eyes lingering in the pleasure of his touch.
Slowly, he undid the ties of my bodice. One by one, slowly and seductively, he caressed
my bosom taking into his mouth my firm nipples. Waves of heated passion ran through me. My
dress was gone now. My naked body exposed. His hands explored the mound of golden hair
between my legs. His fingers felt warm on my cold skin as the fire cracked in the distance. A
moan escaped my quivering lips.
I grabbed at his hair pulling his face up to mine. I was tempted; filled with desire and
ready to burst. I was so tempted to take him, taste his essence, his core... to bring him into me
and make us one in the blood. I knew I had to fight this temptation. But I so wanted to give in to
it. No! I must fight this! I must!
I bit at his neck playfully. His artery pulsated with the blood that flowed beneath his skin;
his thin smooth and perfect skin. Just a little taste, I thought, just a tiny drop. He would never
know. It would only take seconds. I would bond to him, in the blood, in the simple sample of his
life essence. Only seconds. I sighed heavily. No, I can't. I won't. It wasn't the right time.
I pulled away and smiled sheepishly, like a schoolgirl virgin. He just kind of stared into
my eyes for a while. Just breathing. No movement. Then more breathing, heavier breathing.
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Then kissing, the long and passionate kissing. First on the mouth and then on the neck; then the
breasts. It was ecstasy, pure passionate unyielding ecstasy and not from his touch as mortals feel
ecstasy. No, this ecstasy came from his soul and the uniting of my soul with his.
His long fingers were stroking my thigh softly. His heart was racing; I could hear it throb,
the blood flowing through the organ giving him life. His fingers twisted the hair between my
legs. He was playing with me; toying with me. It was sensual, this touch. It was magnetic, like
pure energy, pure white lightning. Mere words can't begin to describe it.
We layed there in the bed, tangled in the white sheets, not knowing where I ended and he
began. He was lost in ecstasy. We were finished now for the second time, finished with the
lovemaking and the intimacy. And the experience was rather surreal, almost like a dream
"Now that we've laid together… Now that our souls have been intimate…" His words
broke the silence of the thickening night air. The fire crackled and popped.
"Yes?" I asked gently.
"How will we continue with this great love affair once I'm wed?" I could hear the sadness
in his voice. It lingered like a thick England fog, this sadness that threatened to suffocate him.
"We'll meet secretly the way we are meeting now." I tried to assure him with a veil of
kisses. He closed his eyes and his head fell back onto the mound of pillows.
"How long can this last?" His question sounded more like a statement, as if he couldn't
possibly fathom this lasting too long. But then of course, he was mortal and didn't have the
hindesight of eternity behind him, like I had.
"Why do you not think it will last? Why do you doubt this?" My words were not harsh
but gentle, not forceful, but yielding. They were stated with care and concern.
"How can I? I'm lying beside you, here in the darkness of this room, feeling your love -
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knowing this feeling, this bliss. It can't last forever. I already mourn the loss of our love before it
even begins. I already mourn your leaving and you have yet to leave." His eyes were showing me
the depth of his pain. He had been hurt before; stabbed in the heart and knocked down so badly,
he had feared he would never find love again.
"Listen," I said as I sat up looking him directly in the eyes. "That will never happen. I'm
not leaving you. Pavel, I will be here, right here holding your hand when you take your last
breath. When you leave this world, my image will be the last you see." My words were soft yet
He smiled. "For eternity?" His question meaning more than he could have known.
"Eternity? Eternity is a long time. But, I will be here for eternity and our love will last
that long. If there are two things that I can promise you they are that I will never leave you and
that I will never stop loving you," I said.
We held each other watching the fire roar. Naked we were in each other’s arms. He never
questioned my cold skin, the shimmer of my fingernails, the iridescence of my eyes. He had
never feared me. He embraced my uniqueness. But, I did get the strange sense that he knew what
I truly was; it just didn’t matter to him because he trusted me.
Nevertheless, life continued as it had since the dawn of man, slowly for mortal eyes, but
mere seconds for my kind. Pavel had married like he had planned. She was a cold and heartless
woman who abused her authority over the people. It broke Pavel's heart to see his people being
oppressed in this fashion and his heart truly bled for them.
She was also a schemer, a terribly bad one. I can't begin to count how many times I had
to fix her blunders in order to save Pavel's solid reputation. She would lie without even thinking
about it; lies flowed off her tongue with the thick saliva that coated her throat. Her words were
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always vicious and full of poison, and when in her presence, I was overwhelmed with evil. I, a
creature of the night, a killer feasting on the blood of the living, was abhorred by the evil that
surrounded her like a thick fog in the deep of night.
I craved her blood with such an immense yearning that I pondered killing her every time
my eyes caught sight of her walking the Palace halls. No Living Drink, oh no. No tiny sample,
oh no, not for her. I would kill her mercilessly. I would rip out her jugular letting the blood spill
from her greedy and condemning heart and I would enjoy watching her slip into death gasping
for breath. But, alas, I could not do this. I was helpless.
Pavel was obligated to bed with her on their wedding night, but he was relieved when the
union had not produced an heir. He didn't merely hate her; he despised her. Five years passed by
and there was still no heir for the throne. He refused to bed with her and this only fed the fire that
fueled her rage.
Then, one night after waking, I sensed something terrible. Pavel was in agony. He needed
me; his life was in disarray. So I went to him straight away.
"She is pregnant. Mavra is with child!" He was staring into the fire; a look of indifference
gracing his solemn face.
"Then a congratulations is in order. Mavra will produce an heir and your name will
continue on," I said as I took a seat across from him. “Time’s like this, one has to try and find the
silver lining in the dark cloud’s, Pavel. It’s already done. You can’t undo it now.”
He was silent for a few minutes, continuing to stare into the fire, not looking at me.
"It's not mine.” His voice remained eerily calm.
"Then whose is it?” I asked not wanting to search his mind. Not wanting to pry into his
private thoughts. “Who is Mavra's lover?"
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He looked at me now for the first time that evening, and his eyes were clear. No tears
had been shed for the vile woman or her callous deed. He sighed heavily as if the weight of the
whole world lay upon his shoulders and he could not benefit from this situation in any way
"It's my fathers,” he said. "She has laid with my father, my own kin, Bree." I rose and
embraced him. His arms remained limp and unreceiving. "I'm being punished aren't I? I'm being
punished for loving you, for being so passionately in love with you. It's the wrath of Hell, isn't it?
I can feel the flames, the flames of Hell, they're licking at my feet - the demons are laughing,
aren't they?"
"You can feel the flames because you are too near the fire," I said bitterly. I allowed
myself to do a very foolish thing then, I cried. Tiny blood tears formed in the corners of my eyes
and fell silently down my cheek like single, perfectly formed raindrops. His hand reached up and
touched one.
"You cry tears of blood.” His statement was eerily calm. I fought back more tears,
trembling under the touch of his soft fingers upon my cheek. Then he continued still with that
eerily calm tone to his voice, “It’s true then – the myths. You are undead, a creature not living
yet, not dead.”
"I am a vampire, yes." I stared past him into the nothingness of space. My voice flat.
"You have laid with a demon and have loved a liar," I said under my breath, but still audible.
Several minutes went by, me staring into the fire and he holding his head in his hands, his
eyes closed. Then he startled me as my mind picked up his thoughts. Mavra fears you...your
power. I don't fear you. I love you. I always thought you didn't belong to this Earth, this realm. I
need you, Bree. I want you. Don't leave, please. You are stronger than she is. His mental cries
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were enough to confirm his love for me, but I still had questions. I kissed him and we layed in
each other’s arms as usual, caressing each other and relishing in our joy; feeding off each other’s
“How can you not fear me?” I asked. “I could end your life so effortlessly. Really, I
could. You don’t even stand a chance, for I could take three of you on without breaking a
He just layed there holding me in his arms. His words were true; they came from his
heart, and were rather blunt. “A part of me does fear you, yes. But, I think the other parts, the
ones that love you, make up more of me. Plus,” he said and then turned and looked into my eyes,
“Death doesn’t scare me.”
“It may not scare you because you’re young, healthy, and prosperous. Wait until the tides
of time come in and you find yourself wrinkled and gray, tired and weak. Then you’ll want this
curse from me,” I replied, my voice carrying with it the morbid undertone of my thoughts. I was
once again reminded of his mortality and it distressed me greatly.
“You say this as though you wouldn’t give me your power?” he asked.
“No,” I replied in the same morbid tone, my voice gray and weak as I fought back the
image of him old and dying and me still the vision of youth. “I will never give you this power. I
love you too much for you to feel the agony of living with no end in sight.” And with this I
kissed his forehead and we layed there. We understood each other more than I felt we ever had
before. It was nice, this feeling, this companionship. It was what I had needed for so long.
Chapter Six
Mavra's heir to the throne, her bastard child with Pavel's father, did not live to see his
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fourth birthday. He was born with severe birth defects - one arm shorter than the other, blind in
one eye, a suppressed immune system - and he was never even strong enough to play with other
children. He lingered, the last months of his life, in bed suffering from Pneumonia and that was
what eventually killed him. His cold-hearted mother only saw him twice in the four years he
lived. She viewed mothering as a job beneath her, only for women who had no power and no
strive for life. She viewed it as a death sentence.
I spent more time with him than his own mother and was there when he passed. His death
was peaceful and occurred during the night while the palace slept and everything was quiet
around him. Mavra was alerted and yet, she remained slumbering peacefully in her bedchamber,
never coming to his side. Of course she donned the appropriate funeral attire for the expected
duration and so forth. She even carried on at the funeral mass. She had always been highly
skilled in putting on an act for the masses – an ever so dramatic little person she was.
As for Pavel, it hurt him little when the child passed. He had not fathered the boy and had
never felt a claim towards him. But, he did weep because the child had not led a more fulfilling
During this time we still continued our love affair. I gave myself to him when he needed
me for the mortal act of love making to feel that our bond remained secure. I, of course, felt
nothing in ways of pleasure during these acts, or at least nothing resembling human pleasure –
we vampires experience the world, all facets of it, much differently than mere humans, but was
fulfilled in knowing Pavel was satisfied.
Rumors of my nightly excursions to his room circulated throughout the town’s various
rumor mills. On several occasions Mavra had sent her assassins and spies to catch us in the act
and murder us in bed. I always knew when they were near or when Pavel's drink or food had
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been poisoned. Every attempt was useless and every assassin and spy fell victim to my hunger
and was disposed of in the river. Those were the exciting years, meeting Pavel in secret and
having that feeling that our romance could be discovered at any moment. It was exhilarating,
inspiring, and invigorating. It was so humanlike.
For the next four years I remained by Pavel’s side giving him pleasure, knowledge, and
strategically advice. In short, I had become his 'right-hand man' so to speak.
During this time, Mavra had become pregnant twice. The first was a stillborn. She had
the life-less child, a girl, rushed away and entombed before anyone could see the body. Once
again, Pavel had not been the father. Rumors circulated that the father had been a soldier whose
regiment had been briefly stationed in Tver. It mattered little really.
The second child was born only to breathe air for six days. No one knows why, but there
was a rumor saying Mavra killed the babe in its sleep because it was another girl and couldn’t
hold a claim for the throne. This child hadn't been Pavel's either.
I remember coming to him after the death of the second child. It was a balmy August
evening. The stars were hanging low in the clear midnight sky and the air was thick, casting a
blanket of sweat on the people of Tver as they slept. I found him lying on his bed stretched out
with his arms tucked under the smoothed mass of black hair covering his head. He saw me
entering from the balcony and was very much pleased.
"I heard of Yalena. I came as soon as I fed." I rushed to his side before he could speak
and covered him in a blanket of kisses. He was deeply troubled by the death of this illegitimate
child, this illegitimate daughter whose father was probably dying defending the very country his
mother sought to ruin. Oh, but it didn't matter. His reputation was marred and nothing short of a
miracle was going to mend it.
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"She keeps killing them, doesn't she?" He looked up at me as he spoke. I gave no answer.
"I know you can hear her thoughts. You must tell me what she thinks. You must!" His voice
grew in intensity with each word.
"Do you really want to know? The truth may be harder to swallow than this surreal
reality in which you float in so carelessly. Do you really want me to burst this little innocent
bubble you live in?" My words were harsh but intended as a warning. A siren, perhaps, to warn
him from steering down the treacherous path called Truth. But, did he heed my warnings? No, of
course not.
"Yes." His voice a mere whisper barely audible to the human ear. He paused then, took in
a breath and continued. "Yes, please tell me. I need to know the truth."
I took a seat next to him, held his hands, and looked into his eyes. "On this very night, as
you sit here grieving for a child who was not yours, and for the wife you did not want..." My
voice was soft and fluid and I was trying so much to make the blow soft. "On this night... She is
sitting in the library...putting quill to paper... mapping out your humiliation...your death...and her
reign." I closed my eyes. I sat back and sighed. I had brought these secrets into light and now all
that was left was a shell of a man sitting before me. His eyes blank, his stare vacant, his
breathing shallow.
"She plans to assassinate me?" His voice was dripping with hate, which he tried to hide
but failed miserably at doing. His large dark eyes looked at me conveying the pain and anguish
this news had brought him.
"Yes, Pavel, with arsenic. She is preparing it as we speak." It was difficult to show
emotion when death was such a trivial matter to me. What is one life when I take lives almost
daily to sustain my own? Plus, I would never have allowed the poison to touch my beloved's lips.
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No, never.
"How was she planning on executing her plan? In my evening meal or my wine before
bed? Surely she wouldn’t put it in the wine. No, she knows I would never allow her entrance into
my chambers," he paused staring into the raging fire and thinking. "So then, how does she plan
on doing this evil deed that is oh, so becoming of her?"
"She has blackmailed the maid who brings your wine. The maid was seen pleasuring your
father and Mavra walked in on them. As you know, the maid is now in debt to Mavra for if this
news were to ever reach you mothers ears, the maid would be killed without hesitation." He
didn't look surprised as I revealed the information.
He began to pace the room. "So now what? Should I kill her? Should I have you kill her?
Should I find her guilty of treason in a public court?" His voice was booming with anger. "There
are no words, no words, to describe how infuriating this is! How dare this frigid cow keep trying
to assonate me!" His face was burgundy, the blood boiling in his veins! He picked up a vase
belonging to Mavra, a wedding present from her - an heirloom belonging to her people, and in a
fit of rage threw the vase - flowers and all - against the wall shattering it into a million tiny
ceramic bits.
I rushed to his side placing my arms around his waist calming him. I sensed no hurt
inside him for he had never loved her. I sensed no sense of loss for he had never really claimed
her. In him I only sensed hatred, confusion, and intense bloody rage. Sensing this only made me
love him more.
"Shhh. Don’t let your thoughts linger on murder or revenge; don’t allow this to trouble
you. Shhh. Just rest and I will think of something," I said.
His head fell against me and I moved him to the bed. We layed there and I held him as he
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stared at nothing and everything trying to sort all these revelations. Then came a tap upon the
door. Pavel jumped in my arms and I could feel his grip on my forearm tighten.
"It's the maid bringing me the poisoned drink!" his voice was hushed.
I flew into a chair facing the fire - the chairs high back concealing me. He moved to the
door and answered it asking the young girl to come in. He placed the goblet of wine on a small
table next to my chair. The maid then walked about ten feet into the room and then stopped,
bowed her head, and remained quiet never looking up at her Master even when he was speaking
to her.
"Anna, from whom did you get this drink?" He towered over her, his voice calm and
"From the kitchen, My Lord." Her voice was weak and mousy. She was so young and
innocent and had been taken advantage of her whole life. Her head remained bowed; her eyes
fixed to the floor.
"Liar!" his voice boomed. She looked up then, startled and afraid. Then she began to cry
and flung herself onto he floor.
"Master, I'm sorry. Please don't hurt me. Spare me, My Lord. She made me do it! She's
wicked and cruel! Oh Lord, she'll kill me! Please, please, please help me." The child was
terrified and begging for her life.
He knelt down and brought her to him embracing her. "Shhh. It's ok. I know it's not your
fault. You’re so innocent and pure. It’s your mistress who is evil and wicked and it is she who
will be punished, not you. Anna, I know the secret she holds over you and it will hold no longer
hold power.”
He removed the periwinkle cloth that covered her shiny black curls, beautiful ringlet curls
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that flowed down her shoulders falling gently on her back, and he gently stroked her hair and
layed upon her head tender kisses.
She looked up at him whipping away the tears with the skirt from her deep indigo dress.
"You know?” she asked her voice quivering.
"Yes and it’s in the past. Don't let it worry you any longer." He wiped a tear that was
falling down her cheek.
"My Lord, he made me do it." She was about to cry again, new tears rushing to flood the
corners of her large eyes.
"I know and you won't need to serve him again. I am making you my personal maid and
you will have new quarters - across the hall- and it will never be like serving my father. I
promise," he declared.
He hugged her and she smiled and I could foresee a future for her in this palace as his
maid and his friend. Of course, we still had the matter of this assassination attempt to deal with
so let me refrain from slipping into the future and continue with the story at hand.
"Go now, Anna, and summon your mistress. Tell her nothing, only that I summon her to
my room. Do not answer any of her questions. Tell her and then leave." He released her and she
quickly left to do his bidding.
I remained in the chair staring into the fire. He came and joined me, sitting to my right.
He observed me as I examined the goblet. It was made of silver and was decorated elaborately in
rubies - Mavras favored gem. She always wore them; used them to decorate her chambers, and
her Ladies, the blatant gossips that they were, even wore a ruby teardrop around their neck
signifying that they were her Ladies. She was extremely possessive of everything and everyone
around her. That was just her style.
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"She's on her way, nearing the corner, soon she'll be on the stairs and at the door before
you know it. Guard yourself and plan your words wisely." I handed him the cup, evidence of her
intended crime, and he kissed my lips softly.
There was a knock at the door, a strong and forceful knock, and Pavel moved to answer it
leaving the goblet of poison on a small oval table near the door. He opened the cumbrous oak
door and there stood Mavra dressed in a fine, gold gown trimmed in a decadent burgundy
colored velvet. She was surprised he was alive. Anna had told her nothing. Clearly, she had been
expecting to find him dead. She had been planning on framing the maid. What an evil and
vindictive woman she was. Her mind was as corroded as her black heart.
"Pavel, you have summoned me? What for?" She did a terrible job concealing her
nervousness, for voice was jumpy and it’s rhythm hurried.
He picked up the goblet and thrust it towards her. "Drink with me," he said.
She moved backward almost stumbling on a footstool. Pavel reached out and caught her
with his free hand. She looked horrified.
"I don't drink wine anymore. It makes me ill." She was trying to act gracious but was
fooling no one. I sat in the chair quietly with my back to the action but seeing everything through
Pavel's eyes compliments of the Blood.
"Since when? You drain a bottle with every meal. Now, drink!" He grabbed for the loose
bun on the top of her head, took hold and thrust the goblet into her face - touching her lips to the
rim. "Drink, whore!" He held her tightly as she struggled to get free from his tight grip.
I arose from the chair startling her. "Pavel, let her go." I raised my hand in protest and he
obeyed. "Mavra..." I was merely inches from her face and now she was frightened beyond belief.
Beads of sweat poured from her brow. Her heart beat erratically from fear.
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"How did you do that? Pavel, how did she move so quickly? I didn't even see her move!"
She was shaking. Her body trembling in fear.
"Mavra, take a seat over there..." I motioned towards the bed. "I need to talk and you
need to do some listening." I was preparing to move her myself if she hadn't obeyed.
"Mavra, if you value your life then you should do as she says... and quickly!" He was
trying to move her but she only stood there like a frightened child as she looked at me. Then, out
of the blue, she went over to the bed and sat down.
"This better be good! I have a mind to run to your father, Pavel, and shine the light on
you and your mistress!" She smoothed the wrinkles out of the fine fabric that made up her
exquisite gown.
"Mavra, don't be foolish. Pavel and I know of every act of coition that has occurred
between you and his father. I also know of the men who fathered your children. The Lady of this
castle believes them to be Pavel’s offspring. Don't give me any more reasons to inform her
otherwise." I moved towards her as I spoke, moving more humanly and slower than I had in the
beginning. “Your head is far too delicate for the chopping block.”
I was beside her looking intensely into her eyes; staring her down. Pavel stood by the fire
refusing to look at her. He was filled with shame for his family’s name, for the people of Tver
whom she openly deceived, and for the children who perished from her vile womb because they
were bastard seeds.
"So, you've found me out, huh? Now what? Hm? Are you going to hang me, Pavel? Hang
me for my crimes against you?" She was so consumed with rage, her eyes blood shot and
bulging, her petite hands curled into tight little fists. “Tell me, Pavel, are you going to try me for
treason or is your mistress here, your little whore, going to kill me?”
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"No, we aren't going to hang you..." I grabbed the fabric near her throat and picked her
up, her demure feet hanging loosely. "You don't deserve to be hung - you deserve much much
worse." I released her throwing her onto the bed; her body limp with fear.
"Then..." She could barely speak due the fear that boiled inside her corrupt veins. "What
is to be my punishment?" She looked towards Pavel, who was now staring at her in wonder, and
then looked back at me.
"The task I ask of you is a difficult one, but mark my words - it's either this or certain
death- so choose wisely." I motioned for Pavel to help her get up. He did and when she was once
again sitting on the bed, I continued, "You are to bed with Pavel and produce an heir to the
thrown." Mavra began to flinch in protest and Pavel pulled on her hair which shut her right up.
"Mavra,” I continued. “You shall not consume any food that has been poisoned, any potions, or
take any action that might cause a stillbirth or a miscarriage. If you do so, I will kill you before
you even know the child your carrying has died. I will be watching you. My eyes will be
transfixed on your every move. One little slip and I'll drain every ounce of life giving blood from
your revolting body, sending your soul to Hell where it belongs."
"You want me to do what? Bed with this man? I can not! I will not! Who do you think
you are telling me what I am going to do!" She was standing to leave.
I moved to her side so swiftly that neither her nor Pavel saw it. I grabbed her by the throat
nearly choking her and hoisted her into the air. "Listen, you do this or you die... right here - right
now. You were never in love with those other men and you only slept with Pavel's father to
obtain power, which you failed to get. I've read his mind, Mavra. Would you like to know what
the Lord of this castle thought of your love making?" My voice was a cold whisper on her neck.
She was frozen in my grasp and only panted for breath yet her eyes still emanated evil.
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Her cold eyes gave no remorse for the sins she had so easily committed. "He thinks you to be a
cold and unfeeling lover. He thinks your womb is rotten and your heart as black as night. He
thinks you lips are thorns and your kiss poison. He despises you with every fiber in his being." I
released her and her body fell limply to the floor. She gasped to regain her breath and
"When? When am I to do this?" she asked. She stood and moved towards the door as she
spoke. "When?" She was clearly and visibly terrified of me.
“How is your mind so easily swayed to fulfill Pavel’s wishes?” I asked sarcastically.
“You made his life, and his castle, a living hell and now, with little prodding, you give in like the
weak creature that you are.”
“You have given me very little choice, now haven’t you,” she squeaked. “No one wants
to die, not even me.”
"Very well then, you will do this tomorrow." I signaled for Pavel and he came to stand by
me. "Wait for Pavel's summons and then enter into this chamber and create an heir for his
fortune." My words were quick and blunt. “Let’s get this vial act safely out of the way and hope
it produces a pregnancy.”
"And then what? I have no assurance that you wouldn't kill me after I give birth!" She
had moved away from the door and stood before us with her arms folded, a hint of deception
gleaming in her eye.
Pavel walked to her and forced her arms apart and took her hand in his. "Mavra, if you do
this, if you produce an heir for me, than I will let you stay here as my wife until you depart this
world. Have your lovers, your pretty boys, and keep your title," he said softly, as if speaking to a
child. “All I want is an heir.”
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"But, don't expect things to go as they did before," I chimed in as I walked towards them.
"You will live a very comfortable and lavish life inside the confines of this castle and it's grounds
but, you will be watched. During the day, I will have men tagging your every move. Your
personal correspondences will be read and your visits will be monitored. Pavel and I will be told
everything. Then, when darkness sets, I will watch you with the eyes of an eagle. Take great care
not to offend Pavel or his family or your life will be ended." I moved in circles around her as I
"And the child I produce?" she asked coldly. "What will become of it?"
Pavel began to speak but I silenced him.
"Mavra," I said. "Your child will be raised by Pavel and I, you will have limited access to
the child and if this is breeched or threatened then there will be no contact whatsoever."
She looked at me and then at Pavel. "Then it's an agreement. I will await your summons,
My Lord." With this she bowed and looked at me for permission to leave. I nodded for her leave.
Pavel looked exhausted and defeated. He moved over to the bed and laid down sighing as
he did so. I went and layed next to him and began caressing his cheek with little kisses, my
fingers lovingly stroking his rich black hair. We spent the few remaining hours of the night in
each other’s arms. His mind was so open to me that night, more open than it had ever been
before. He needed an heir, the pressure from his father was mounting, but he loathed Mavra. He
had to sleep with her. He had to plant his seed in her womb; he knew this all too well. But he
also feared that the child would take on Mavra's evil tendencies. I also feared this but remained
silent, never saying a word. I just laid there in his arms relishing in the stillness of the room and
the crispness of the breeze coming off the balcony.
I left right before dawn. He had fallen asleep and I had left a gentle kiss on his cheek not
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wanting to wake him.
The next night, just as I had commanded, Mavra was summoned to Pavel's room and she
obeyed. She had dressed herself in a seductive flesh toned silk gown that was perfectly gathered
under her bosom accentuating its fullness. Her tiny nipples enticingly showed through the sheer
fabric. The gown flowed freely and the body was as sheer as the bodice. Because Mavra was
pale, like most Russian aristocratic women in her day, the flesh-toned gown nearly matched her
skin creating a very alluring package that even Pavel, with all his consuming hatred towards her,
could not resist.
Copulation occurred and she had become with child from the brief union. I saw
everything from his mind. He had nearly vomited when he touched her breast but he had fought
off the sickness and bared with it. From his mind I saw what was getting him through this vile
deed - me. He was envisioning making love to me. When he stroked her hair he was feeling my
hair. When he kissed her face he felt my skin. And I projected into his mind my voice, the
softness of my skin, and the tenderness of my kisses.
The spell I had woven on him worked and the act of coition had been endured because of
his love for me. He had seen my face and from the depths of her poisonous kiss to the touch of
her evil hands, it was the love he felt for me- the deep affection - which got him through it.
Months passed by. My meetings with Pavel became a nightly occurrence. We lingered in
each other’s arms, debated politics and religion, and watched the seasons change while waiting
for the birth of his child.
With each month, Mavra’s belly grew rather pleasingly. I never told Pavel the secrets I
had heard from Mavra's womb. Late in her sixth month, I had listened at her stomach and heard
three heartbeats - one a strong thunderous thumping which I knew to be Mavra's and then two
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tiny individual thumps. I never told either one of them and it was driving Pavel crazy. He could
have died from the suspense. Mavra was curious but wanted to wait even though she suspected
twins from the way the babies kicked and turned in her womb.
Mavra had mellowed during this time and had grown close to Pavel and even to me. She
was delighted, of all things that Pavel had found in me what he described as “the truest love one
could ever know.” She had grown into a kinder woman with this pregnancy and with the
newfound friendship that had blossomed between her and Pavel. It was as if she were a
completely different woman - a kinder, gentler, more peaceful woman - only it was a bit late and
the changes wouldn't do her much good in the long run.
On Christmas morning in the year 1543, Aleksandra and Anastasia Vladislov were born
into this world. The birds sang from their icy branches and all of Tver was delighted and
welcomed the royal births.
I had missed the births since they had occurred in the afternoon but I made haste to
Castle Vladislov upon wakening. Pavel greeted me with a warm embrace as I entered from his
balcony. He was worried about something and, like it had always been with him, I fought the
urge to read his mind and I waited until he was comfortable telling me what troubled him. He
motioned for me to follow him. Across from the fireplace, so they could be kept warm, laid two
darling baby girls. Each had thick black hair; Anastasia's was curly and Aleksandra's was
straight. That was how they could be told apart he had explained. They were both equally
beautiful and delicate. I admired the wondrous creations before me.
"What's wrong with Mavra?" I asked.
My question didn't surprise him and he didn't hesitate to answer, "She's been bleeding a
lot since the births. The midwife can't stop it." Aleksandra began crying and he picked her up
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cuddling her small body to his chest.
"Well, it's not uncommon for a woman to loose blood in child birth and even for her to
continue bleeding for a while," I said as I picked up Anastasia and sat down in the closest chair.
"But she has lost too much blood. I summoned the doctor but he has done everything he
can. He’s only managed to slow the bleeding not end it. He has given her a few days, at most,
unless the bleeding stops." Aleksandra had begun crying softly and like a good father, Pavel
scooped her up and began rocking her. Anastasia remained asleep in my arms.
"I'm sorry, Pavel. It hurts me to know that you are hurting. But, keep the faith her health
might improve. I've been around for a long, long time and I've seen it happen before." I would
have said anything he wanted to hear. This moment was so bittersweet and fleeting. Happiness
surrounded us and filled the air with every whimper from these two precious babes, yet if you
listened hard enough, you could hear Mavra's painful screams.
Pavel looked up at me, tears filling his eyes, and then he looked down at the precious
bundle in his arms. "If," he began, the words catching in his throat. "If she doesn't improve and
the pain becomes too much for her to handle..." He looked down at the babe in his arms and then
returned his gaze at me. "If she begs to die - for the pain to end - will you be merciful and grant
her a quick death in your arms?"
I was taken aback by his question - his request. I had often pondered, after Winston
delivered the news about Olivia's death that if I had been given the chance I would have granted
her a more peaceful death than the years of agony she had suffered. But it was no longer
speculation. No longer, "what would you do if?" This was happening now and I was being asked
to do it for real.
"I'm not sure. I might if that was what she wanted. But then again, it could just be the
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pain talking - the pain asking to be relieved. No one can know for sure what her soul really
wants. I just don't," I sighed. "I'm just not sure I can do that." I turned my gaze towards the fire
watching the flames lick the air.
"You would let her suffer? You who takes a life to feed your own!" He laid his sleeping
daughter in her bassinet covering her with a soft white blanket.
"I haven't taken a life in years. Not since Olivia's death, actually. I can not take her life so
please don't request this of me. Don't let this strain our love. Don't pull away because I allow
your wife to suffer and die naturally. I can’t just take away every death you encounter, erasing
their pain with my kiss." I continued to stare into the fire. Anastasia was still in my arms and I
rocked her gently.
The room remained quiet for several minutes. I laid Anastasia in her bassinet as Pavel
walked to his bed and sat on the edge with his back hunched over, elbows balanced on his knees,
and his hands in fists tucked under his chin. I went over and held him forcing him to relax in my
arms as we gently laid back. His breathing was slow and steady; his heart beat in his chest.
Besides the sound of the crackling fire, the only sounds in the room were the gentle cooing the
twins made in their sleep and the steady thump of his heart beating. But, in the distance, I could
hear Mavra crying into her pillow as the nurse carried away more blood soaked bedding and I
new these cries – they were familiar to me.
I sat up with a jerk. "Call for the Priest! Now!" I urged. "It's begun. The hour of her death
is near!" I moved towards the door and before I went to exit the room I yelled again in my most
urgent tone, "NOW!"
As I ran down the hall, past the servants rushing toward Pavel's shouting, I had to remain
both calm and slow as to not lead anyone towards the conclusion that I wasn't human. I heard her
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breathing become shallow. She was in the throws of death and didn't have long.
"Hurry, summon the Priest!" I shouted as I ran towards her room.
Through the commotion I could hear Pavel instructing Anna to make haste to the Church
and fetch Mavra's confessor. Whispers were circulating around the castle and my vampiric
hearing couldn't help but hear them. From the sound of it, the servants and staff would be having
a private party as she is laid to rest in the family mausoleum. They wanted her buried in the Earth
so that they could dance on her grave. She wasn't even dead yet and the staff was already
referring to her in the past tense.
Things were happening too quickly. The blood was flowing too quickly. The nurse was
shouting. Mavra was screaming in pain. I was at her door and I was trying to find the courage to
enter. I was searching for the courage to be able to look at her before she died and not take her
blood into mine ending her pain and her life. I was trying to hard not to grant Pavel his request.
But, was this foolishness really? Was I hiding behind my own fears and my own guilt while this
woman I had grown to befriend lay dying in intense pain?
She was already near death. Near death? No! She was already in his embrace. How long
could she linger like this? Hours? Minutes? I didn't know for sure. Could I sit back and let her
slip into unconsciousness, let her breathing stop, her heart cease to beat? Could I just sit back and
do nothing? Then again, could I manage to take her life and end her suffering before the death
struggle truly began? Could I show mercy on her and make the pain go away?
Then it struck me like a bolt of lightning right out of the night sky. I couldn't help Olivia
and she had been forced to endure all that pain and suffering. I felt a lifetime of guilt because I
had not been was not there and she had been forced to die so slowly from her illnesses. But, I had
the power now. I could walk into that room and it would be over within minutes and she would
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be at peace and her soul could begin its journey home.
I stood outside the room, lingering in the hallway as people shuffled by. The Priest had
arrived. He spoke to me and I nodded. I wasn't paying attention and I don't think I even know
what he said to me. I watch as he entered her room. Through the slightly opened door, which the
Priest had left open for me so I could follow him in, I could see her lying on the bed - her face
ashen and tear stained. He was kneeling at the bedside asking if she wanted the Last Rights.
"Yes!" she screamed through her crying.
I allowed him to finish and watched as he anointed her with oil and prayed for her soul.
Her eyes remained shut through the whole ritual. She continued to cry. The Priest looked my
way as he collected his things and he walked toward me shutting the door behind him.
"She doesn't have long. Maybe tonight, if she lasts that long. She has been blessed and
has confessed her sins. There is nothing more I can do for her. Her soul is God’s now to judge
and soon her body will be man’s to burry," he sighed.
"Thank you, Father. I must go to her so she doesn't die alone," I said. He nodded, turned,
and made his way down the staircase to leave. I noticed Pavel coming down the hallway as I
entered Mavra's chambers.
She was laying there, in her bed, her saffron gown sticking to her chest from the sweat.
The nurse was in the corner washing the blood-soaked bedding in a large wooden tub. Mavra's
dingy hair clung to her forehead. Her eyes were closed, as she lay limp on her pillow. Her
breathing was extremely shallow.
I was watching her chest move with each breath as Pavel stormed into the room. He had
gone to her bedside without the slightest look or word of acknowledgement to either the nurse or
me. He knelt there holding her hand and her eyes opened slightly when he stroked the back of
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her hand.
"Pavel?" she managed to whisper. She was beyond weak now as she laid bleeding to
death. The aroma of blood was overpowering. It was in her hair, under her finely painted nails, in
the pores of her ashen skin.
"I'm here, Mavra. I want to thank you for giving me two wonderfully beautiful
daughters," his voice trailed off. Tears were forming in his eyes and a lump was growing in his
throat. He was unable to continue. He kissed her cheek and then her barely open lips. Then he
left the room whispering "Please?" as he walked past me.
I continued to stare at Mavra. The nurse was eyeing me suspiciously, as she should have
been, while she changed the bed rags under Mavra. They were soaked through with blood like
the others before them. The flow wasn't slowing. She was growing paler.
"If you would please excuse us?" I motioned for the nurse to leave. She left grumbling
under her breath. She was furious with me, her mind said that much and more but I was not even
slightly interested in her thoughts at the moment.
I walked over to Mavra, her eyes struggling to open, and I knelt down beside the bed.
Unable to find the strength, her eyes closed. Her breathing was becoming even more shallow;
she struggled to speak but couldn't. She coughed up some blood and I whipped it from her
mouth. I heard her heart beat, it was racing - fighting to slow down - trying to calm itself. Her
chest was heaving as she struggled for air.
"Mavra," I whispered in her ear. "I'm going to make the pain stop. I'm going to make it all
go away." I began sitting her up and she was caught in my embrace. Her head flopped around
and I placed it on my shoulder. Her breath was hot on my neck.
"Why?" It took every molecule left in her to speak that one little word. I was amazed -
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taken back - in shock.
For a few moments I thought about it. Finally, I answered as she coughed blood onto my
shoulder. "Because you gave Pavel what I could never give him. Children." I didn't realize it
until I spoke those words but that was the reason, deep down, why I was willing to euthanize
She had given him the one thing I couldn't - a child! I could provide companionship,
stimulating conversation, almost everything a mortal woman can provide - except offspring. It
was so obvious, really, it had always been. That’s why I had befriended her these past months as
she carried his precious children.
Her eyes were roaming the room wildly. She couldn't focus. Her mind was scrambled.
"But," she managed to squeak out. I could feel her body collapsing in my arms. She was giving
up her fight - letting death win. I read her mind. It spoke so clearly. But, I've been mean and
spiteful. I've envied the love you and Pavel share. I never found it. I searched but never found it.
I've tried to hurt his reputation. I've tried to kill him. He doesn't want me to suffer? Sent you to
kill me? Peaceful? Will it be peaceful? Painful?
"Your past has been forgiven and forgotten. Rest now. Be at peace. The end will be
peaceful and I promise you no pain." I rocked her in my arms. She was like a child, a newborn
child, frightened and lingering in between reality and the afterlife.
"I see the angels, Bree. Their arms are out for me!" she was crying, her body finding a
newfound strength. I sat there, holding her, blood tears streaming down my cheeks. I put aside
every human emotion I had left - brushed back her hair - and sunk my ivory teeth into her tiny
The blood was thick and came gushing over my tongue. Her heart was ready for me. She
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was ready to die - to be with the angels she saw. I could see things, through the Blood, her
childhood - her sordid past. All the answers to all the questions I never asked came flooding my
mind through brilliantly vivid images.
The images I saw - her father raping her when she was ten - her brother beating her
almost nightly - her mother selling her body to other Royalty to cover debts. I saw her buying
pardons for her misdeeds, pardons from the Catholic Church. Her confessor is telling her “all is
forgiven, my child,” as she hands over her purse. She was merely a product of her dysfunctional
upbringing - a child who was never loved and thus was never taught to love. And then I saw
images of the past months, when she was pregnant with the twins, and how she cherished the
affection Pavel and I gave her. For the first time in her life she had actually felt loved. And now
she was dying. Such as sad ending for someone who had only recently learned to live and love.
It was over now - the images - the blood- her life. I laid her body on the bed and wiped
my bloody teardrops from her face. She looked so innocent. I looked towards the far wall where
she had seen the angels. I told them, "Take her soul into Heaven. Forgive her sins for she did not
know what she was doing, her heart had truly been innocent." Then I knelt beside her body and
prayed for her soul, something I hadn't done in centuries. The room was dark, the scattered
candles nearly burnt out, and the air was stale with the aroma of death that only my preternatural
senses could detect. Her soul was no longer in this room, I sensed that, and only the shell of her
tired body remained.
The smell of death was getting to me. I left the room and shut the door behind me making
the sign of the cross as I left. I went straight to Pavel, quickly, and the moment he saw me in the
doorway, he ran and embraced me and the tears came forth like a flood. I let him linger on my
shoulder. The twins were sleeping, all cozy in their bassinets by the fire. I wondered if, in some
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strange way, they knew that their mother had passed. Could babies sense those things? I didn't
know. I still don't know.
The cool night air was flowing through the room and my delicate skin caught the breeze.
It sent a million tiny goose bumps up and down my ivory skin. For some reason, Mavra's room
seemed hotter, more humid. Yet, here I stood in Pavel's chambers and my arms were covered in
goose bumps. I wanted to be closer to the fire but I couldn't disturb Pavel. His mourning had
only begun and it would take a long time for the reality of her death to sink in and I didn't want
to force him away so that I could be warmer. I didn't wish to even speak until he spoke. His mind
said he needed the quiet and I loved him too much to not grant him that. Anyway, by then,
Mavra's thick Austrian blood was working its way through my body warming my skin.
"Was it peaceful for her?" he asked finally. He moved away and sat down on the edge of
the bed facing away from me. His voice was meleanchous.
"Yes," I said as I walked over to Aleksandra's bassinet picking her up, cuddling her to my
chest. I sat down in the big chair next to the fire and stared into the flames. The room was quiet;
the air chilly and stagnate. The fire raged on engulfing the few remaining logs in the fireplace.
I heard him sigh and then the mattress creek as he stood up. Before I knew it, he was
warming his hands over the fire; tears already formed in the corners of his eyes. He was fighting
them back and doing a good job of it. A few escaped and rolled down his cheek. He was trying to
conceal his thoughts and lock his mind but I was too powerful. I only saw glimpses, pain, guilt,
and extreme sadness. Why do I mourn her? Wasn't her soul pure evil? Remember all the
conniving things she did! Remember! Remember the poisoned wine! The assignation attempts!
The adultery! The dead children! But, she had changed? Right? Yes, she had changed. She was a
different person... a friend. Wasn't she? He struggled to hate her while at the same time he
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struggled to love her and mourn her. Whenever he thought of the new Mavra he couldn't help
remembering the old.
"She was a product of an extremely violent childhood. She was bred to hate, connive, and
belittle. But her soul wasn't evil when I took her and the Priest had done his work; she was
saved," I said rather matter-of-factly. Aleksandra had awoken and was searching my chest for a
food source. I laid her in her bassinet and rung for the wet-nurse. I heard her stirring in the tiny
cove she had under the main staircase.
Pavel wasn't surprised by my words, he merely tapped his head and flashed me a smile
and shrugged. He was used to the fact that he couldn't hold any secrets from me. He knew, all
too well, that I could read not only his thoughts but also his heart. But he also knew I only did
this when I could tell he was holding something from me and that wasn’t often.
The wet-nurse had come and I got Aleksandra, who was near crying with hunger, and
placed her in the woman’s arms. I asked Pavel to join me on the balcony. The night air was cold
and crisp and he wrapped my shoulders in a wool blanket. His little acts of chivalry pleased me
very much and I realized my love for him was still as strong as it was the night before he and
Mavra conceived the twins. I wasn't jealous because I couldn't provide children for him; I was
not his wife. I was his mistress, his lover, his friend, and his confidant. I gave him pleasure and
he gave me the love of a mortal, which I so greatly craved and needed in those early centuries.
Pavel was leaning over the railing looking over the houses of Tver. "You know, I'll have
to make a speech at tomorrows court." He was exhausted and his speech was slow. I opened a
blanket, this heavy, brown, fuzzy wool blanket, and held my arms open. He joined me and I
wrapped the blanket around us, warming his body.
"Don't worry about those things now, my darling," I whispered into his ear. He leaned
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down and quickly kissed my lips. I held him tightly and reassured him that everything would be
all right in a couple of days. Tears had started to form in the corners of his eyes but I had wiped
them away.
"What happened when you took her blood? What did you see?" he asked while I laid my
head on his shoulder. He squeezed me tighter.
"I saw what I always see when I drink blood, whatever their soul wants me to see.
Sometimes it’s people they loved and sometimes it bad deeds they’ve committed," I said, my
head remaining on his shoulder and my voice still a whisper. A strong breeze blew by stirring the
heavy drapes that concealed us on the balcony.
"And what did her soul show you?" He was eager to know. He wanted an answer so he
could end the struggle in his heart. In the end, was she good or evil? Did she love him in her
black heart? Had she really changed?
"I can't tell you right now. Maybe after the funeral and this is all behind us, but not now,"
I said. He tried to embrace me, his masculine arms coming for me, but I wiggled away. "Not
now," I said.
He turned away, his mind filled with hurt and his ego bruised. I felt for him, for the pain
and the guilt he suffered with silently, and for the motherless twins sleeping in their bassinets
who would never know their mother. He seemed, at times, to carry the whole of Russia on his
shoulders, and then other times, he seemed carefree and childlike shrouded in innocence and
love. He was complex and a challenge to figure out without reading his mind, but eventually I
learned the man and loved him for all his qualities because they were human qualities and not
based on anything evil or malicious.
But, I knew I would have to leave him even if it were just for a little while. I needed to be
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with my own kind - with someone who could sympathize with the weight my shoulders carried.
Yes, I would leave but I wouldn't stay away long. I needed a break from humanity, from those
who could walk in the sun, from those who looked forward to a Heaven their souls could call
home. I needed time to heal from the heavy guilt I felt.
I heard the nurse leave - the door shutting with a soft thud. I could hear the twins stirring
in their sleep and the crackle of the fire. The smell of the night air was mysterious and the moon
haunted me as I looked at. I went to Pavel and took his hands in mine.
"My temptation, my love," I could hardy go on, my eyes fixed on the stone floor, my
hands loosely gripping his. "I need to leave for a while. I need to be with my own kind. I need to
leave Russia. Disconnect from humanity," I said, still not looking up.
"No,” his voice was deeply haunting. He slid his hand under my chin and raised my face.
He looked into my eyes and his stare was like a bolt of pure white energy coursing through my
"I have to and I am," I said. I let go of his hand and turned towards the balcony rail
gripping it tightly.
"Why then? I thought you loved me! Have you changed your mind?" He was confused
and hurt and was letting his pain come through as anger. He was a fighter and his mind made it
clear that he would fight me till the end if he had to.
"I do love you, probably too much and way too deeply, but I do love you." I still wouldn't
turn around even though his hand was on my shoulder trying to turn me.
"Then why leave me now?" His voice boomed in the quiet night. The servants were
talking about it in the hallway and the cooks in the kitchen were saying he was drunk again. I
was more than happy to leave them to their silly assumptions.
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I turned around to face him, my eyes burning with intensity. "Because I will turn you! I
will take your blood into mine and give you eternal life! Because I love you too much when I
shouldn't have fallen in love with you in the first place! Because I just took the life of your wife
and with it her secrets. You can’t possibly comprehend how knowing her secrets weigh on me. I
should never have been able to persuade myself, or have been persuaded by you, to do what I
did. Yes, it was merciful, and perhaps it was the right thing to do, but I still shouldn’t have done
it. I need some time, my Love, I need some time to become less attached to you and your
humanity." I took to the air and was gone before he could have realized it. My mind whispered to
his, "I'll be back one day, I promise."
I went home, back to Winston, back to the reality of what I was. No more playing human,
I promised myself. No more needing them. No more wanting their love. No more, I promised
myself. No more giving into every desire and emotion and wanting to only give more of myself.
It hadn't been easy walking through the garden door and seeing Winston standing in the
warm glow of the fire. He was concerned when he saw the bloody tears that were leaving marked
path on my cheeks. His mouth scrunched into a pouty frown as it always did when he worried
and I brushed off his questions. I moved to the linen chest next to my favorite chair and pulled
from it a brand new lace handkerchief and wiped the blood tears from my cheeks and then tossed
the cloth into the fire.
Before going to my slumber I turned to him, "Pack your things. I'm leaving at nightfall
for Germany and then on to Rome. You are welcome to come with me."
He was confused. "Germany?" he asked.
"There is a man I need to speak with there. I should've went a long time ago when all
these questions began forming in my mind," I said.
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“Questions? What Questions? You’ve never told me you had questions,” he asked with a
look of bewilderment on his face.
“Have you heard the news coming out of Germany or the news coming out Rome?” I
asked in a hurried tone. I was anxious for this night to be over with and for my next adventure to
“I know there is turmoil in the Catholic Church but you know very well I pay little
attention when it comes to religious matters,” he responded.
“Well,” I began, my voice taking on the tone of a teacher. “A man by the name of Martin
Luther is creating quite a stir with a thesis he posted on the door of a church.”
“I see. And you know this man?” he asked in a rather condescending tone.
“No, but that is beside the point,” I remarked. “He is accusing the Catholic Church of
selling pardons. He is saying they are selling entrances into the gates of Heaven!”
“What?” he asked in disbelief. “Who in the world would be so naïve as to believe that
someone can buy their way into Heaven?”
“People who are being mislead by clergy, that’s who,” I said, my voice dripping with
“You seem rather upset by this, but I’m having a terrible time determining why.”
“If it’s true, all of this, then what has become of the Catholic Church? I had once given
my life for the Catholic Church, I was married to it, and now… it’s like finding out your spouse
has committed adultery. It’s deceit, Winston. They are misleading the populace and it’s a
He mumbled something, but I was gone too quickly to hear it. I was soaring through the
air as soon as I finished the last sentence, as was my style. Germany waited. The truth waited for
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me. Eternity would never be the same.
Chapter Seven
And so daybreak came and I fell into a deep and refreshing sleep. My thoughts turning
now towards the truth in this age of enlightenment and reform. So many questions needing
answered. So much darkness and too little light surrounded my religion, or at least the only
religion I had ever known. My thoughts trailed off as I fell deeper into sleep. Peace. Calm. The
birds sang outside. The sun gave life to all the things that hid in the darkness of night. Sleep
now... sleep.
Night came as it always did, swiftly grabbing me from the depths of a dream world I
often wished I could live in. Oh, the dreams - the sweet warmth of the sun on my cold skin, the
clouds pure and white in the sky, growing older with a true love. Dreams - all dreams - all
useless dreams that could never come true because of the monster I will always be. So, why do I
dwell on it? Does this help me mourn for the mortal I would have become - or that I once was?
Why don't I just move on - rejoin reality - the existence of being a vampire - of being this
monstrosity in her velvet blue gown and her hair done up in gold string and small, delicately
formed pearls.
Enough already. Enough speculating. Where was I? Oh yes, the night we left for
Germany. The night I planned on reconnecting to this vampiral existence. The night I attempted
an escape from the reality of mortals and their precious mortality.
I remember seeing him as I approached the garden. He was dressed simply in nondistinguishing attire as I had taught him. Simple browns and tans, nothing shocking - nothing
that would catch any roaming eyes. He was sitting on the edge of the fountain raking his
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fingertips through the still and silent water. The moon reflected in the water giving his face an
eerie glow.
I passed him with a smile and went to collect my precious belongings - processions that
kept me connected to the mortal I once was. First my emerald and diamond necklace then
various bracelets that I was fond of wearing. Little rings of gold and silver - some braided and
some smooth. All of these things went into the red velvet pouch tied to my wrist. Then, very
carefully, I removed the locket whose hinges had broken centuries ago but whose picture was
just a little faded but still intact. I looked at the picture, so many memories, it seemed like a
different lifetime – not mine but someone else’s - and I placed it too in the pouch.
I looked around at the house, the furnishings, at the fireplace that was cold and dark. My
fingers ran over the mantel feeling the smooth marble. The memories came flooding into my
mind - the months of depression, the months I sat there in my own little protective bubble hiding
from the moon night after night. The flames had kept me company, holding in their little sparks
my overwhelming grief. Goodbye my counselor. Goodbye, my friend in the flames.
As I look back now I find it remarkable how connected one can become to something as
inanimate as a house. But I had done just that several times through the years. I would miss its
grand windows, it's breathtakingly lavish garden, the crackle of wood in its fireplace. I missed
the convent, also, and the mountain side cottage in Norway, and my cozy library in Hungary. I
would miss this home too. It's true what they say, home is where the heart is - even when you're
I took my gray wool cloak from its hook by the door. Putting the cloak around my
shoulders, I turned the knob on the door and took a final look around the room. I had to leave
now. I needed this. And so, I left softly closing the door behind me. I pulled the hood over my
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head, signaled for Winston to follow, and took to the air and didn't look back because I couldn't
bear the pain it would cause - the house growing smaller and smaller.
We made several stops, several months in St. Petersburg and then it was off to Germany.
We traveled the countryside of Germany visiting its cities and basking in the architecturally rich
landscape. We saw the Domburg, a vast complex of buildings with a Romanesque triple nave
cathedral, in Merseburg. I got to hold the Merseburg Bible, which dates back to the 1200’s and
other precious manuscripts that are housed in the buildings library. The stain glass windows in
the Presbytery dated from the thirteenth century and were breathtakingly vivid with the myriad
of colorful shadows they casted on the stone floor.
Then it was off to the wine country of Esslingen and then to Rottweil. Rottweil had been
established as a Roman settlement but, when we visited there, it was under the control of the
Swiss Confederation. The city’s ancient Roman baths are just now being unearthed and in the
most unlikely of locations - the towns cemetery. But I went to see the newly completed triplenave basilica in the parish church of St. Cross.
I have always enjoyed walking through churches at night when the candles are lit and the
air is still and the only noises are the few faithful parishioners praying in the pews. I can lurk
there, at night, and not be discovered. It's like I'm a vapor, a mere mist that flies through on the
wings of a slow breeze. I always light a candle and offer up a prayer although I can hardly
believe I'm still registered in Heaven's book and God still hears my meager pleas.
On our last night in Rottweil I revisited the church of St. Cross. I lingered in the back,
hidden in the shadows, and waited for everyone to leave so that I could have the church to my
self. Inevitably they all left. I reached to light one of the back candles watching the wick dance
with life as the fire consumed it. I offered up a prayer, as usual, but this was no ordinary request.
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The next leg of my journey would be the most treacherous, not for my physical body which was
impervious to mortal harm - but for my emotional self, the part of me that still held fast to the
belief in a God - a higher power.
I asked for clarity - to show me the truth. "Let my eyes be vessels of truth. Let my tongue
know the words to form and my ears the words to hear," I had prayed, as I layed prostrate on the
hard stone floor.
Winston had come to me sometime shortly before dawn. I had heard him enter and then
the sound of the old wooden pew creak as he sat down. He waited over an hour just sitting there,
watching me as I layed on the floor crying, my crimson tears staining the smooth stone tiles. But
now his hand was gently caressing my shoulder. We had to leave. We had to take shelter - the
sun was coming. Oh, but how I longed to remain at the foot of the altar. Oh, how I longed to let
the sun capture me - to let it's rays take me home to my God before I journeyed to Eisleben
where I feared I might hear the truth.
And so we slept and the next evening we made our way to Eisleben where a sickly yet
brave soul laid dying. It was the evening of February 18th in the year 1547 and we were in a
bedchamber at the Castle at Mansfeld. For those who know their history, or at least their
religious history, would know the importance of this date. I had reached the destination of my
spiritual journey - the reason for my leaving Russia. In front of me were the answers I sought, all
in this dying man and I could have kicked myself for putting this journey off for so long.
"Martin Luther," I whispered from the shadows. Winston was confused as he looked at
the man withering in agony.
He continued to pray as his eyes roamed the room searching for me. I waited until his
companion was called away and the door to the room had been shut and then I slowly emerged
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from the shadows. Winston remained hidden with a look of pure shock on his handsome face.
"O, my Heavenly Father," he whispered as I approached his bedside. He thought I was an
"Luther…" He continued to prayer as I spoke his name. I wiped the sweat that had
collected on his heavy brow.
"God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," he continued in a soft whisper. His eyes
would close and then reopen as if he thought I would disappear.
"Luther, is it true? The ninety-five thesis?" I asked as I wiped his mouth with the corner
of his blanket. I needed answers for the turmoil in me to cease.
Again he continued to prayer although a look of concern was brewing in his eyes. "O
God of all comfort," he continued. Why would an angel be asking him about that? His mind was
reeling and his body aching.
"Is it true that some are buying letters of pardon so they may enter the gates of Heaven
and that the Holy Catholic Church is selling these papers?" Tears were forming and I struggled
to keep them away. I struggled because I was loosing faith in a church that I had once been so
intimately connected to. I couldn’t believe this was the same religion I was once wed into and
this deeply troubled me.
He didn't answer just continued to pray. His eyes were closed but his mind was open. It
was true - all true!
"On the day before the Feast of All Saints in 1517 when you posted your theses for
theological discussion, did you think forwarding these documents to your friends... did you think
they would be circulated through out Germany? Could you have ever imagined the fire that
would erupt? Could you have known all the people who wondered the same very things you
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sought to discuss in your theses?" My head was spinning. The tears came and I didn't stop them.
I let them fall and collect on my cloak. “Luther, I was a nun, once a long, long time ago. Don’t
you see? If this is true then the Catholic Religion is no longer the religion of Truth that I once
held it to be.”
The blood tears didn't scare him. He continued to pray. The words breaking through his
wispy breathing. He was near death – merely a matter of hours now.
"Could you have ever imagined the impact you would create?" I kissed his cheek as he
struggled to prayer. I heard the loud footsteps as his companion descended the staircase. I
retreated to the safety of Winston’s waiting arms and to the veil of the shadows.
Then, as we lingered in the shadows and his two disciples knelt next to him, he prayed a
verse from the office of compline - "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit, O faithful God." His
disciples were asking him something but we were already in the air and touching the clouds.
He died shortly after but I couldn't bear to witness his departure. The man could have had
no idea how his actions and teachings would influence the current world. He never sought fame.
His eyes were always on God and his thoughts on honoring His word and teaching the people the
truth as it is written in His book. And from that day on I no longer called myself Catholic.
Winston thought it was silly, a vampire aligning herself with a religion. But I didn't find it silly at
all. I knew there was a God. I knew that he existed and that he had once watched over me. What
I didn't know was if he had abandoned me, if I had indeed fallen from grace after this curse was
placed upon me. All I had was faith and that would have to be enough. Even to this day I am
thankful for Martin Luther, and I’m thankful for the revelations he brought to the surface.
It was the next night, the moon was full and bright and the stars twinkled just how I liked
them too. Winston found me sitting under the full moon, my hair tousled and out of place and my
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dress wrinkled. He sat down next to me and we both remained silent for a while enjoying the
sound of the crickets chirping in the distance. I thought I had heard a bullfrog close by but I
could have been wrong. My concentration was off that night. I couldn't stop thinking about Pavel
and the twins whom I had so abruptly abandoned to pursue my search for the truth. I had been
obsessed with Luther's teachings and now the teacher was gone and there was nothing left to
obsess over.
"I'm returning to Russia." My words broke the silence. He looked at me and I continued,
"You aren't obligated to accompany me home. Please don't feel you must. I know you have your
own urges to travel - to see the world, and I want you to fulfill them." I focused on the moon as I
talked but I could feel his eyes burning into me with his curious stare.
"Why are you returning to Russia?" His words were flat and without feeling. His glare
moved up to the moon and the stars and thankfully, got lost in the night sky.
"Pavel needs me and so do the twins." I pulled the satchel bag from my side and untied
the knot. My hand pulled out the little picture of my family and my fingers gently moved over it.
This tiny painted picture was a sign of a different time and I knew it; a time long lost and to
never be known again.
"Why do you keep that picture?" he asked but then hushed me as I moved to answer. He
stood up and began kicking at some pebbles with the toe of his boot. "Why do you insist on
being needed by this mortal and his family? What happened to separating yourself from
humanity - from mortals who are going to die and fade away with time?" His questions came
from a deep concern for me and I didn't take offense to them.
"I long for a family - you know like we had before - a real family to invest my love in," I
said as I slid the locket back into the satchel and tied it to my waist. "I will never be a mother.
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But I found a mortal man who loves me despite the fact that I am this putrid monster! And then
what happens? He has children and the mother passes away! Now I have before me two tender
children that I can shape and mold and help raise. And you ask of me what? That I give this
opportunity up? That I leave them behind to a mortal fate? I can not, Winston. I will not!"
"Am I not enough then? Your own brother... your only link to the family you keep hidden
away in that bag!" He was furious with me, his voice dripping with discontent. I could taste his
contempt and disgust in the air. It hung heavily like a dense fog.
"Winston," I began. His words hurt me deeply but I could never let him know this. I
could never give him that power over me. "I'm returning to Russia whether you like it or not.
Now, you are more than welcome to come with me but whether you come or stay will not
change my mind." I stood and began brushing the leaves and dirt from my clothing. “Pavel and
his children are my family now as well as you. I would love to have both but I understand our
nature, our ways, and if you need some time for yourself then feel free to take it.”
He came from behind me taking my shoulders and twisting me to face him. The veins in
his face looked as if they could burst, he was so intensely furious.
"What are you going to do when he dies because he will, you know?" His voice got
louder with each syllable. "How are you going to explain to those innocent and pure little
darlings why you never age even though they are aging and changing? Do you plan on using
make-ups and disguises as you do now? Put powder in your hair? Age spots on your hands?
What are you going to tell them when they ask you why their mother died? Are you going to say
that you killed her? Will they ever know the truth?" He dropped his grip on my shoulders and
began pacing in front of me, his shouting reaching a fevered pitch.
"Are you going to invite them into your home, my dear sister? What are you going to say
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when they ask where you are during the day? Why your hair shines as if it were made from
strands of diamond dust? How about when they notice your incandescent fingernails? They are
going to find you out, sister. Eventually... it's inevitable." His hands fell to his side. He had
spoken his argument and was now exhausted and unable to fight anymore tonight.
I let some time go by to aid in the illusion that I was processing what he had said. I wasn't
of course. Well, at least not seriously. My mind was already made up and nothing he could have
ever said would deter me from returning to Pavel’s side.
"I never planned on concealing what I truly was from them." My words were soft and
floated to his waiting ears easily. "When Mavra had been in her fifth month Pavel had already
drawn up the appropriate documents naming me Godmother."
His eyes fell on me more gently now than before. His mouth opened as if he wanted to
speak but was unsure of what to say.
Finally his mouth did form words, "So, you honestly mean to raise them as your own?" It
was just now registering in his mind. As if the past argument we had just had was for nothing.
"Yes," I said. "I love them as daughters and I want to raise them either on my own or
with Pavel." I walked to him and placed my hand on his cheek. I could feel a tiny tear fall down
my cheek. "Winston, I want to be a mother."
I embraced him and he whispered into my ear that he understood. He eventually let go
and smiled a toothy grin. It made me smile too.
"Well, we must be off then if we plan on going all the way to Russia," he said. He
stretched his arms out in front of him and then flapped them to his side letting them hit his
"Yes, I guess we must be off then," I replied. I was so intoxicated with emotion that
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Winston had decided to remain with me. I would have the best of both worlds when I returned to
Russia; the love of a brother, the love of a man I admired, and the family I never dreamt I would
I was on cloud nine as we soared through the clouds. Eternity would be even more
bearable as long as Pavel was around. As long as he lived a blanket of peace surrounded me and
kept me safe and warm. I was sheltered from the harshness of eternity, from the harsh fact that I
would indeed live to see his death. But, now is not the time for thinking ill thoughts.
I was on my way to Russia. I was on my way to being in my lover’s arms again. And
above all, I would be reunited with the twins. They were no longer tiny newborns suckling at the
nursemaid’s breast. Oh no, they would be in their fourth year of life now and seeing them would
be like seeing two tiny strangers. But I remembered their heartbeats. I had memorized them and
could still recall their rhythm after all those years. Thump thump thump – steadily they called to
me over the distance. Slowly and steadily, they were calling me home – calling me to be their
On the night we returned to Tver it was raining, which fit perfectly with my solemn
mood. I was excited to see Pavel again, of course. But I was also a bit frightened. Had he
changed his Will? Surely he had. What capable and intelligent advisor wouldn’t have advised
him to do so! But worse, had he replaced me in other ways? Did he love another as he once
loved me? Did the twins think her their mother? Had Pavel replaced the love he had felt for me
or did the fires of his passion still burn bright?
When I had left I would have answered “no” to these questions. When I had left I was
confident that I could not be replaced in any capacity. But I never intended to be gone so long.
That is the one thing that can be both a torment and a gift when you are immortal, time. It can
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slip by so quickly and before you realize it a century has gone by. Or, time can tick by creeping
along like a turtle, slow and steady. The thing is, or at least for me, I tend to misplace time. I get
caught up in what I’m doing and before I know it more time has elapsed than I would have liked
and I find myself missing too much.
But I can’t blame time really. And I can’t blame Pavel if things had drastically changed
since I had left. Although, with his puppy dog like loyalty, I had a pretty good feeling he still
waited for me each night on that balcony, alone and longing for my touch. Or at least I was
hoping so. I had been without a real family for so long and I truly needed Pavel and the twins’
companionship. To me they were as important as my nightly feeding and the sheltering
moonlight. Winston called this obsessive and unhealthy but I never listened to his negative
It was near dawn when we landed on Russian soil so we needed to take shelter from the
coming sunlight immediately. I longed to behold Pavel’s face, to touch his proud chin, trace my
fingers over his soft and supple lips, and to fill my nose with his scent – whiffs of sweat, sage,
fire, and wax. And I was anxious to see what had become of the twins, to see how they had
grown, developed. They were children now, no longer tiny, adorable infants, and they had minds
and personalities of their own. I couldn’t wait to learn from them, to see them experience things
through their fresh and innocent minds.
We slept through the day and I awoke before Winston. He would have a full night
assembling a staff for our home and, of course, dusting away the cobwebs from the rooms. I, on
the other hand, wished to visit my “family.” It had all been arranged the night before. He agreed
to be the “man” and take on the tasks of reestablishing our residence and I was to see my
darlings, if indeed they were still mine to call upon and to care for.
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And so, as he still slept, I anxiously prepared myself for Pavel. I dressed a scarlet dress
with a high neckline and long sleeves with gold-silk cuffs, which I knew Pavel, would find
pleasing. He had given me the diamond cufflinks as a present once and I had, upon his request,
replaced the lackluster buttons on the dress with matching one-carat diamonds. I always dressed
in the finest clothing money could buy. I had an image to uphold after all.
Dressed in what Pavel had once called my “most exquisite gown,” I took to the air and
within minutes was standing on his balcony. The heavy drapes were drawn but I sensed a human
presence behind them. It was he all right, his thoughts dismal and self-deprecating. His
intoxicating scent filled the air as the gentle wind rushed through my hair.
I moved the bulky drape aside as if it were mere tissue paper. No sound was made when I
pushed the fabric aside and he was still unaware of my lingering presence. Every fiber in my
being screamed for his touch yet I remained still and quiet hidden in the shadow of the balcony.
I walked towards him and that’s when I saw her half hidden under a fur blanket near the
fire. All I could see was a tousled mess of jet black hair poking out from under the blanket. Her
tiny foot jutted out the bottom and the toes curled ever so slightly. Was this Aleksandra or
Anastasia, I wondered? She looked so petite with the great fur enveloping her. The room was
filled with the earthy smell of the fire that warmed her. The flames were casting shadows on her
as she slept peacefully.
“Is she Aleksandra or Anastasia?” I asked. She stirred under the fur and yawned, but
remained asleep.
Startled by my voice, Pavel jumped from his chair and turned towards me. Instantly I saw
him smile and then tears began falling from both of our eyes. He rushed towards me and grabbed
a hold of my waist and locked me to him in a tight embrace. I could feel the warmth of his breath
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on my cheek and I new I belonged here with him.
“I was beginning to think you were never coming back,” he said, and then began kissing
my cheek and then my lips. The roughness of his stubbly cheeks pressed into my skin sending
tingling sensation throughout my body.
“I’m sorry I was gone so long. Oh, how I am sorry!” I cried out from behind his kisses.
This huge doubt had been lifted. He still loved me! He still wanted me! I was still important to
him! Maybe we could continue where we left off?
I wasn’t sure. We had both changed some. Perhaps, my change was more inward than his
was; I just wasn’t sure yet. Had he grown personally as a father? Aged not only physically but
also mentally and emotionally? My growth was indeed inward and spiritual, but then I couldn’t
age like mortals. My hair would never go ashen, the skin beneath my eyes wrinkle and sag, nor
would age spots appear on my white skin unless I painted them on as a disguise, which was
something I often did.
He drew back and for awhile he lingered, staring at me with a silly grin on his face.
“Am I dreaming or are you really here? For every night since you’ve left I have dreamt of
you returning and if this is a dream then it’s the sweetest of them all!” he said as he looked into
my eyes.
“No, my Prince, this I not a dream! I have returned and I want to never leave you again.
Will you allow this? Will you permit me to love you, and your daughters, and never leave your
side until death claims you?” I whispered as I leaned in and kissed his cheek. There was no need
for an answer; I could read his heart.
We layed in each other’s arms for an hour, at least, with only the sound of our breathing
and the young girl on the floor humming sweetly in her sleep. Even though no verbal discourse
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was occurring our hearts were catching up for lost time. Their beatings were becoming
synchronized as we layed together with hardly an inch of space separating our bodies.
Dawn was fast approaching and I knew I had to go but I hesitated. I drew every last
second I could because being in his manly arms was like being home again. I felt safe and secure
and loved. I wished then that it could always be night, that the sun would die away and leave an
eternal night sky so I could stay in his arms forever.
The night breeze wafted in through the open balcony. The air was cool and crisp and
smelled of fresh rain although I don’t recall it raining.
“Don’t leave,” he said as he rolled on top of me. He was running his fingers through my
hair and staring into my eyes.
“You know I must. But I’ll be back when the sun sets, I promise,” I said as I smiled. All
the time that had lapsed and still this man, this mortal with all his weaknesses, continued to hold
a flame of hope and love for me in his heart. I was comforted in knowing that I was loved and
needed, and wanted.
“Then I must let you go but only so you can return to me.” He moved aside. “But, you
must come back. I will hold you to your promise. I’ve missed you something terribly and I can’t
imagine loosing you again and having to wait so long to see your beautiful eyes.” He looked so
innocent lying there. His heart still burned with passion for me like it had when I embarked on
my spiritual journey.
I slid off the bed and wandered over to the sleeping child. She was stirring, waking,
struggling to stay asleep in the warmth of the air around her. The floor was cold everywhere else
in the room except for the tiny area on which she slept by the fire. I could see more of her face
now since she had rolled over onto her side. She had a tiny delicate button nose and these
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adorably rosy cheeks, and was such a precious sight to see.
Her eyes, while even closed, were gorgeous. Her lashes were long and full and were lying
gracefully on her cheek. Her lips, I especially took notice of, they were full and pouty not what
you would usually see on a girl so young. They almost appeared to be kissing the air but weren’t.
She was going to be a heartbreaker some day. I knew it. She stirred again, under the fur blanket,
and then let out a squeaky yawn.
“Aleksandra has grown into a lovely child, Pavel. You should be proud,” I said as I knelt
down and brushed her ginger brown hair off her face.
“Yes, she really has. I’ve had some trouble with Anastasia but not my little Aleksandra,”
he said as he sat himself on a seti across from the child.
“Trouble? How do you mean?” I asked as I moved to join him on the seti. I took his hand
into mine as I sat down beside him.
He sighed, “She’s done some questioning things, that’s all. Thing’s that make me wonder
if she’s turning out like her mother.” He looked away and I could sense the pain in him. It
festered on the surface like an open wound, putrid and hideous.
“Now, Mavra was conditioned to be evil. She wasn’t born that way. Her past created that
person you married. Those days before the girls were born, when she was different and nice, that
was the real Mavra, truly. You need to change this perspective. Don’t raise these girls to hate
their mother. The fact that she died bringing them into this world…Well, it’s enough for them to
love her there’s no need for them to hear the bad.” I looked down at Aleksandra. Pavel released
my hand and stood up leaning against the mantel.
“Then how am I to explain the trouble we’ve had with her if it’s not some condition
passed on from her mother?” he said as he ran his finger along the mantel.
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“What she has done? You know perfectly well that I could just riffle through your mind
for the information I want, but I would prefer to hear it from you instead. I don’t want parlor
tricks in this relationship. I want intimacy and trust.” I went to his side and wrapped my slender
arms around his waist. “Please, tell me, tell me everything.” He kissed my forehead and led me
back to the seti.
“I first noticed it when the girls were three. Anastasia would stare off into space all the
time and would act out violently if anyone disturbed her. Then, when they were four,” He shook
his head in disbelief. The pain in his voice was deepening. He was consumed with concern for
her; he truly didn’t want to believe she was like Mavra or would turn into an evil person.
“She took a carving knife from a table in the kitchen… her sister and the nanny were
outside… she had asked to play with Nina the cook… she loved to act like she was cooking,”
His voice trailed off.
“Pavel, my dear, what happened?” I asked. I had a hold of his right arm with concern.
“She stabbed the cook. She hid behind the pantry door and when Nina had closed it,
Anastasia jumped out and stabbed her in the leg. The knife went clear through her thigh.” He
shook his head and continued to stare off into the distance, lost in memories. “She died a week
later from infection. Anastasia laughed at her funeral.” He hung his head low.
“Oh dear God!” I said in disbelief. How could a mere child be consumed with such
intense hatred? “Where is she now then?” I asked.
“In the dungeon. Where else could I put her?” He shrugged his shoulders as he spoke. He
was like an empty vessel for he was so exhausted from struggling with this child that he had
nothing left in him.
“The dungeon? Still?” I asked in disbelief.
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“No, not still. She was put there after the incidence early this evening.” His eyelids
becoming so heavy that he was forced to close them. “I just don’t know what to do with her
“Pavel, my love, what happened tonight?” I asked.
The room was still and silent for a few moments. The fire crackled, the wind whistled
softly behind the think drapes, and Aleksandra’s whimpering blended in nicely with the night
chorus. Then he spoke and the pain in his voice was beyond bearable.
“She attempted to strangle Aleksandra. The nanny woke to some loud banging coming
from the girls’ room. She ran in and found Anastasia standing over her sister with her hands
wrapped around Aleksandra’s neck. Aleksandra was kicking the wall and pinching at her sisters
arms,” he said. “We put her in the quiet room, in the dungeon. It’s safe. It was made for her, the
only solution I could come to eventually. There’s a bed in there and a lantern hanging near the
ceiling.” He stared into the fire, lost in thought.
“You should send her away, Pavel. Have you considered this? Sending her away to a
boarding school, in England perhaps?” I said. “I could make the arrangements for you and even
take her there myself.”
“Perhaps, when she’s old enough for a boarding school I mean, perhaps then I will be
forced to take that action, to send her away.” He shook his head. “She’s just so young! I wonder
how bad she will get as she grows. She won’t play with other children,” he sighed. “I just don’t
know what to do with her.” He hung his head, defeated.
“I, too, am worried for Anastasia but it’s Aleksandra that concerns me now. Pavel, when
I look at her I don’t see a mere child,” I stopped in mid sentence. How could I trust how I felt
when looking upon this marvelous child all snug and cozy under the fur blanket?
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“What do you mean you don’t see her as a child?” he asked. His words snapped me back
into reality.
“What I meant to say was that I can see a gift in Aleksandra. I can see the powerful and
noble Queen she could become. But what concerns me is that Aleksandra will never meet her
full potential if she is raised alongside Anastasia. I fear she could become corrupt, spiteful, or
worse. I’ve seen it many times through the years – how a noble light becomes corrupted and
dims into oblivion,” I said. I could hear the castle waking up; the maids begin cleaning, and the
cooks preparing breakfast.
He moved to speak, but I stopped him as his mouth formed the first syllable. “Pavel, I
need to go. The sun has already begun its morning climb! I will return with the moon. I promise.
We will talk of this further,” I said, as I kissed his cheek. Then I was gone and safely hidden
from the blazing light of the sun.
Sleep. Oh, the peaceful oblivious sleep. It was renewing, protective, and yet vulnerable.
Sleep while the birds sang in their blue sky. Sleep while the children played in the schoolyards.
Sleep until the moon rises full in the sky and beckons me to wake as it has done every night since
my turning. Sleep until I’m delivered safely into the moonlight and the star kiss my cheek.
Winston was waiting for me when I woke the next evening. He was waiting with a sly
look upon his face and his feet propped up on a chair.
“And where were you my sister?” he asked rather mischievously.
I told him everything. I told him how we had held each other and what it felt like being
back in Pavel’s arms. And I told him about Aleksandra and Anastasia. I told him about
Anastasia’s violent past and of the attack she had made on Aleksandra the night before. Then I
told him how beautiful Aleksandra was and how when I had looked into her mind I saw immense
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possibilities – some good and some bad.
We hunted together, as usual, in the seedy taverns of Tver, of which there were a few.
The smell of vodka permeated the air like a thick fog. Winston lured a glutton of a man into a
darkened corner of the tavern. I heard the man’s mind as the life slipped out of him; he thought
of his vodka on the bar – his mind preoccupied with the drink.
I caught the attention of a handsomely gentlemen playing a game of chance at one of the
tables before me. I smiled and wove my seductive magic on him splendidly. He bought out of
his game and started advancing towards me his face sly and his thoughts wicked. He wanted to
rip the clothes from my body. He wanted to feel the moistness of my loins. He wanted to carry
me to his room above the tavern and bring me to ecstasy over and over again.
“What a lovely bird you are, little one,” he said.
He smelled of expensive vodka. He was a wealthy man and his pockets were bulging
with winnings. He had these brilliantly grey eyes that glimmered in the candle light of the tavern
and his black mustache and beard were closely trimmed giving him a rather distinguished look.
He was no common ruffian and his blood wouldn’t be common either.
“Come closer,” I whispered in the thick, smoky tavern. I beckoned to him with my finger.
He came within an inch of me and I grabbed onto the collar of his shirt and pressed his
warm body to mine. I kissed his neck and then his full lips. I could taste the vodka on his lips and
then on his tongue as I thrust mine into his lusciously hot mouth. He grabbed onto my back and
pressed his engorged manhood into me as if he were trying to impress me.
I had him entranced. His mind was swimming in the scent of my perfume and drowning
in the essence of kisses. I ran the tip of my tongue over the pulsing artery in his neck. I was
moving him, pushing him into a dark corner of the room where no one would pay attention to us.
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I stroked his hair gently, scratching at his scalp with the tips of my nails. He was
breathing heavily. His heart was pounding in his chest. I slipped my hand into his pants grabbing
for his pulsing manhood as I kissed his lips letting my tongue slip in and out of his mouth
playfully. His mind said “this is one wild woman,” and he couldn’t have been more right.
His breathing became more rapid and his heart threatened to burst in his chest as I
vigorously stroked his manhood. My mouth returned to his neck kissing it gently, which he
enjoyed immensely. He withered in my arms. As he came, staining the front of his pants, I
finished my little drink from his neck and closed the wound as usual. I kissed him gently as I
moved him towards a nearby table and sat him in one of the chairs. He looked up at me thinking
he had been the only one given pleasure.
“I must repay you, little one. I must find a way to take you where you took me just now,”
he said as his hand playfully tugged at my skirt.
“It was my pleasure. I’ve received all I wish to receive,” I said as I smiled down at him. I
spied Winston near the door, waiting for me no doubt, and I joined him.
We left and split company. He was planning on returning to the house to work on his
newest fixation – painting. Winston always had some fixation going on it seemed. I left him to
his painting and made my way to Pavel’s balcony.
Chapter Eight
The moonlight was overhead casting a grayish glow over his face. He was waiting for me
that night. He was standing with his hands gripping the railing and his eyes searching the night
sky. I came in and landed behind him, softly and without making a sound.
His mind was calling for me. His eyes were searching the darkened sky for any sign of
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my coming.
“My Love?” I asked. “Why do you stand out here waiting for me?” But, when he turned
around I knew what had caused the look of horror and fear in his eyes and it wasn’t my surprise
“Oh Bree! I’ve been waiting for you to come. I don’t know what to do!” He took a hold
of my shoulders and hugged me tightly. I could feel his tears collecting on my skin as they fell
from his gorgeous eyes. Something bad had happened to Aleksandra! Something terrible and her
very life had been threatened! I abhorred reading his thought but these he was sending me with
such force I couldn’t ignore them.
“What did she do to her?” I demanded. “What has that vile child done now?” I screamed.
“Please Pavel,” I said, struggling to calm my voice. “Please take her to me straight away.”
He took my hand and led me into his room, out the massive oak door, and towards the
room that Mavra had passed away in. I hadn’t been in that room since and I really didn’t wish to
return, but I had too now.
She layed there in the same bed that her mother had passed away in. Her face was ashen
and clammy. Her little eyes were tightly closed and she was sleeping. The pain had been so great
that she had fainted from it. The doctor had been called and he was now sitting on the edge of the
bed examining the wound.
It was a deep stab wound in her leg. The doctor silently feared that she would loose all
use of the leg but I knew the heart and will of this child was strong and she would overcome this
obstacle. She has a light that refused to dim, that one.
“Anastasia wasn’t aiming for her leg,” I said out loud. The room gasped and directed
their attentions toward me. I was only concerned for the child and didn’t wish to play parlor
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games with the rooms’ attendants. I turned to Pavel and asked to be taken to Anastasia without
I found her locked behind a thick iron door, which led into a tiny cell. She was sitting
near the back of a small makeshift bed not risking making a sound. Her legs were stretched out
in front of her, her arms folded across her chest. She was struggling to stay awake, her eyelids
heavy from lack of sleep.
I moved towards the door taking the key from the hook. Pavel moved to stop me by
putting his hand on my shoulder but I brushed him off as politely as I could. The key slid into the
lock easily and within a few quick turns the door opened and I went inside shutting it behind me.
Pavel stayed outside pacing up and down the hallway completely mentally exhausted now and
As I drew closer to her, she drew her legs up into her chest and grimaced. I stood over
her, dominatingly, trying to frighten her. It was working to an extent but not as well as I would
have liked.
“Anastasia,” I began. “Why did you stab your sister?” I asked.
She seemed to laugh under her breath. Her thoughts were odd, she seemed to know me,
or of me at least.
“They told me to do it,” she said. “She made me slip and I missed her heart. Now they are
going to punish me!” Her voice growing with anger. “Now I will have to try again and again and
again until I do it right!” She reached forward and tried to bite my leg.
I took a hold of her dress collar and raised her into the air. Her feet dangled about 4 feet
off the bed and she began crying frantically.
“Who told you to hurt her?” I demanded. Pavel had stopped pacing and was now looking
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through the tiny barred window in the door. “Who are these people? Tell me now, child, or you
will remain in this dungeon until you die!” I whispered hatefully.
She stopped crying and took on a more serious tone – not sounding anything like a child
but of a matured young woman, which she was not. “Mikhail and Vanka. That’s what they told
me to call them, anyway.” I released my grip on the child and let her fall onto the bed.
“When do these Mikhail and Vanka people come to you? Is it at night? In the day?” I
asked. I kept a commanding stance above her.
“They come all the time. Sometimes when I’m playing outside before lunch. But, usually
they come at night. They seem to be stronger at night,” she said rather innocently. In her mind
she thought they were vampires. She had heard their nanny talking of Vampires. Her thoughts
were corrupt with vampire stories.
“You think they are vampires, no?” I asked rather curiously. “Why do you think they are
vampires?” I had knelt down now making myself level with her line of sight.
The cell floor was cold and damp.
“I heard Anna telling the cook that vampires were people who had been ‘without the rites
given.’ I think that means they weren’t blessed when they died, but I’m not sure,” she said. She
looked down and kicked at the meager bed covering. She seemed so much the child now,
innocent, but I knew it was merely a farce.
Of all the tales I’ve heard since that night – all the crazy myths on how vampires are
created and are killed – that was one of the oddest I have heard. Russians once believed that not
only was a vampire the result of someone that had been born from a witch and a werewolf
coupling and then had befallen some obscure superstitious burial accident, as in being
improperly buried, but also that a vampire prowled from noon to midnight. This is just even
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more proof of how reality can manipulate superstitions until almost nothing is left originating
from the core belief.
For example, there was a time when having red hair meant that you were predestined to
become a vampire after your death. If wild dogs had jumped over the corpse, if the person had
committed suicide, or if they simply renounced the Eastern Orthodox religion one could become
a vampire. I’m sure other absurdities existed, circulating in the shadowy corners of the world.
Through the years I’ve witnessed some rather strange myths concerning vampirism. I’ve
learned so much from my travels and knowing these superstitions has helped me to camouflage
myself through the years. And during the vampire mania that swept through Europe in the early
1700’s, I had to practice extreme caution. Now here was this child telling me, of all people, that
she suspected that her mysterious visitors were vampires while, under he very nose, stood a
vampire questioning her!
“Could they simply be imaginary friends your mind has conjured up so you can excuse
nearly killing your sister?” I asked. I could hear Pavel outside the cell, pacing, his feet tapping
away on the stones in frustration.
“No! They aren’t made up!” she screamed as she stood up and came at me with her fists
furiously beating the air. “Their vampires! I know it! They are real!” She began hitting me with
her tiny fists and kicking my legs with her bare feet.
“Don’t be stupid child.” I said while grabbing her wrists. She struggled against me. She
was a fighter, that was for certain, and she had a temper to match. She was a little spitfire and not
afraid of a fight. Although after a while she calmed down and I released her, letting her climb
onto the bed from fear.
“When was the first time you saw them, Anastasia?” I asked.
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“Last year. We were playing in the garden. We were picking roses and I saw them by the
ridge of the forest. I ran off from Anna and Aleksandra. I was just curious, that was all. Honestly,
I wasn’t looking for trouble!” she said. She was being honest that, at least, was evident. I
motioned for her to continue. Pavel was at the door listening intently.
“Well,” she continued in this little innocent voice that made her sound younger than she
actually was. “I walked to the edge of the forest, where the trees seem crowded because they’re
so close to one another. There were these tiny purple flowers and I decided to pick some. I sat
down and started gathering them one by one in my basket. That’s when I saw Vanka. She was
standing next to me and she must have come right out of thin air!” She was growing rather
fidgety telling the story and I tried to calm her with my mind.
“Then what happened, Anastasia? Did she speak to you? Did you speak to her?” I asked
“No, not the first time. They didn’t talk to me until the second time I saw them,” she said
rather matter-of-factly.
She scooted towards the corner of her bed and tucked her knees in under her chin. Her
skinny little arms wrapped around her legs. She was cold. Her teeth chattered loudly and her lips
were turning blue. I summoned for a heavy blanket and Pavel left at once to fetch it.
“Your father is bringing you a blanket soon, Anastasia,” I told her.
I positioned myself near the door so I could be handed the blanket through the barred
window. Her mind was weak and tired making it very easy for me to probe her thoughts. I
listened to the story it told in the silent night; the uncertainty and confusion in her thoughts
lingered heavily like a dense cloud.
The blanket had arrived. It was made from heavy wool, reddish in color but faded with
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age, and it was thick and warm. It did its trick after I wrapped her in the fabric, and the color
slowly began returning to her cheeks.
“They came to you in the middle of the night, didn’t they?” I said. Her eyes grew with
surprise, her jaw dropping. “They spoke to you then did they not?” I continued.
“Yes, they did! But how did you know they came at night?” she asked. She reminded me
now of her mother – innocence hidden in all that hatred and evil.
“I know more than you can imagine. I know all the things you’ve done to your sister and
I know about the cook,” I said. She stiffened and then began to tremble vigorously.
“They told me to do it!” she screamed. She started crying; her tears were plenty. “I have
to do what they tell me to do! I have to!” I was holding her down at this point, her trembling was
now at a peak and she shook violently.
“It’s ok. Shh. It’s ok,” I whispered trying my best to calm her. “I know what it is they
told you and I know what it is they told you they would do if you didn’t obey. I know everything
“No. Don’t say those words!” she begged as the tears multiplied and crowded her cheeks.
“Please don’t speak the words they spoke.” She collapsed in my arms nearly exhausted from the
weight of her secret.
“Shh. Don’t you worry, I will never utter those words and I want the same promise from
you. Do you hear me?” I asked. I was wiping the tears from her cheeks.
“I promise,” she whispered. She clung onto me tightly. “But I’m still afraid…” She
continued and then her voice trailed off. I could sense she was afraid again but of what I couldn’t
grasp onto.
“What still frightens you, my child?” I asked.
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Her red and swollen eyes looked up at me innocently. “That I will hurt her. That I will
hurt Aleksandra.”
I hugged her tightly, the warmth she generated passing through the blanket warming me.
“You won’t hurt her, Anastasia. I can promise you that,” I said. Her tiny fingers twisting a strand
of my hair gently.
“How can you be sure?” she asked innocently.
“Because your sister will live with me, child,” I said. She was near sleep. Her eyelids
were heavy and struggling to stay open. “Because I will watch over her and you, and I will make
sure no harm comes to either of you,” I said. She was asleep now. She was at peace and her
secret lifted. “I will be her mother, little one, and yours,” I whispered into the darkened night.
Aleksandra lived with Winston and I from that night on only spending the occasional
weekend with Pavel. Winston enjoyed having her around and we were all a happy little family.
She had supervised visits with her sister every four days and it seemed as if things would work
out well between them. Time told a completely different story though. Bad things began to
happen, terrible things.
But, allow me to linger in the positive for just a little while longer. The world is full of
horror, rape, murder, and the like. I would rather linger in the pleasantries of my existence on
this planet before I must face the evil and deceit that covers me like a thick blanket, smothering
me, blinding me, and comforting me coincidently.
During the next five years under my care, Aleksandra developed into a beautiful young
lady. Even at the age of eight she possessed incredible insight. People all over Tver knew of her
and her kindness to others. She was the embodiment of humanity and compassion and all tightly
bundled in such a delicate little package, a very attractive package. Those young years were
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something marvelous and spectacular watching her develop her powerful mind and strong will.
How she interacted with Anastasia was completely different. She had no patience for
stupidity and was always becoming infuriated with her sister; maybe it was this way because her
sister embodied stupidity and idiocy and she had no patience for either. Needless to say, the two
never got along. It was like fire and ice with them. Anastasia would spit at the poor people lying
against the shops in town. She would throw things at them and make rude comments.
Aleksandra, on the other hand, would invite these people to dine with her and be bathed in the
castles’ marbled tubs. This was the difference between the two sisters, and such an immense
difference at that.
Then, when the girls were nine, Anastasia shattered the perfect bubble we lived under and
violently attacked her Latin instructor. She bit his finger nearly taking it off at the knuckle. For
days she just sat in her room not making a sound, just curled up on her bed shaking like a leaf. I
had been sent for and of course I went the moment I awoke.
It was just like Pavel had described in his note. She was curled into the corner of her bed
like she had been in that tiny cell those many years ago. She was humming quietly, a monotone
hum nothing resembling a song. Her feet turned inward towards each other and over lapped at
the toes. Her knees were bent and tucked neatly under her chin. Her eyes were closed and her
arms grabbing at the back of her head. Her mind was wide open and waiting for me to solve the
I had knelt at the edge of the bed and began speaking softly to her but my words weren’t
coaxing her out of the stupor. So because I had tried everything else, I was left with no other
choice than to search her mind. It was so easy too. Her thoughts bombarded me like a crushing
wave. She wanted, nay needed, for me to hear her thoughts, to unlock her secrets and set them
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I placed my hand on the top of her head and her eyes turned toward me and stared. Her
lips were quivering and her eyes bloodshot from crying. And then, as if by the pure mental
power of this child had pushed me back, I went stumbling onto my back. I was shocked,
dumbfounded, in total awe.
Then her thoughts washed over me crying for help. They are here. Those I’ve named
before. Mother, make them go away. They’ll hurt me! Help! Help me! Then she began to shake.
She just sat there and shook so violently as her mind spoke to me. I told her to be at peace and
that I would make them go away but in all honesty, I never knew how to make them go away.
I left the room and went straight to Pavel’s chambers where he was anxiously waiting for
me. Anastasia was sitting near the fire reading from a book I had given her – Aristotle or some
other philosopher, I can’t remember now. I sent her away. “Go tend to your sister,” I had said.
“Make sure she doesn’t hurt herself.”
“Pavel,” I said to him as Anastasia closed the door behind her. He rushed to my side and I
took him into my arms kissing him. “Pavel, they are back. Mikhail and Vanka are back!”
“What?” he asked, and then sat down from the utter shock of the news. “What are they
telling her to do now? Surely they’re not telling her to sit on that bed and shake like a leaf!”
“They want to hurt her this time. Well, that’s all I could get from her mind. I don’t think
she’s going to try and hurt anybody besides herself this time.” I sat down next to him stroking his
hair with my fingers.
“What do we do now? Do they not visit her at your place? I mean, why only here?
Nothing happens when she is staying at your place,” he asked. His arm had found its way around
my shoulders and I snuggled up to him. I loved this closeness we shared, this feeling of comfort
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and companionship.
“I think the time has come to send her away to boarding school,” I replied nonchalantly.
“Boarding school?” he asked quite shocked. “Why send her away? What makes you think
it won’t happen there as well?”
“I don’t think it will happen there. It doesn’t happen at my place, right? It only happens
here and with each time it happens these things, these ghosts, keep getting stronger.” I stood up.
“She gives them power. They are no longer telling her to harm others, even that was bad enough,
but now they want her to harm herself! We can’t let that happen! We must get her as far from
here as we can.” I took his hands into mine and looked deeply into his eyes.
“I understand. Yes, we must get her as far from these things as we possibly can. Maybe
then she can have a chance for a normal life.” He conceded, then hung his head low so that I
could kiss his forehead with my soft lips.
I told him I would be away for a few days, that I would take care of everything, that he
need not trouble himself anymore. And I did take care of everything. Anastasia was to attend one
of the finest private all-girls boarding schools I could locate and she was to attend it in England,
as far as I could possibly get her from the evil beings who haunted her life.
Life was calm for a while. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and before I
realized it, another year had passed. Everyone was happy and content. Pavel was fighting off the
unmarried daughters of almost every noble family within five hundred miles, vowing never to
remarry. Winston had left for a whirlwind tour of Italy. He had begged me to accompany him but
my love for Pavel couldn’t pull me away. He had left promising to be gone only a year, two at
the most, but I didn’t mind his absence.
During this year I grew fond of Aleksandra. Her budding intelligence and good nature
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were refreshing. She still kept her residence with me and had begun calling me mother. She
excelled in languages and she would often roam through the house hollering in German and
French, “Wachen Sie auf” and “Se réveille,” which both mean, “wake up.” She was already
rather fluent in German and an excellent student of French. She took lessons daily and enjoyed it
immensely. Also, around this time, she began taking lessons in my beloved English. I always
told her stories of my childhood growing up in the English countryside and she would always
say, “Oh, Mother, please take me there. I so desire to learn more of your people.”
I knew I would return to England, the place of my birth and mortal happiness, but I was
not yet ready to make the journey. Everyone I had known was long gone, perished with time.
Winston always talked of taking me back, making me face my fears, and relive memories I’ve
since forced into the dark void of my mind. But could these memories really harm me the way I
feared they could? Could reliving my childhood lift this black veil of immortality and, in some
odd way, rebirth in me the vital human emotions I crave for so eagerly?
I often pondered these questions and the meaning of it all. It seemed the longer I lived,
with each passing year, each passing decade and century, a small piece of my former self fell to
the wind and scattered into oblivion. I feared never getting them back, never putting the jigsaw
together again. Each year I grew harder, my heart colder, more distant. I began caring less and
less about humanity and found myself concentrating on loving those I chose to love purely for
my own need to love them. But this love, this feeling - it wasn’t human. Humanity is jealous,
deceitful, and possessive. It is not in the nature of a Vampire, an Immortal, to be jealous. How
can we possess something that does not belong in our realm to begin with? And, no matter how
hard we try, we can not bring ourselves to possess them.
Alas, my mind is filled now with questions I can not answer. Perhaps this is why I am in
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this current state of undying loneliness and despair. But let me return now to the tale at hand. I
have so much to cover, so much history to teach, and many secrets to divulge. Time is running
out and I fear that I won’t finish my tale.
Anastasia was doing well in boarding school. In fact, she was excelling in every subject
except history, but that didn’t matter much. They were grooming her to be a lovely and civilized
lady. I had hopes for her, high hopes, and when she returned I wished for her to fulfill them. But
her return was not to be happening for several years. She had much to learn and the safety of
boarding school was the perfect place for her to be.
During the holiday season and even into the murky summer months, Aleksandra begged
me to take her to England. She wanted to learn of my heritage for heritage meant a great deal in
Russian families. For months she went on an endless diatribe with reasons why we should make
the journey. Over all, I had to agree with her. Yes, it would be educational for her to explore
other countries. Yes, it would be interesting to see other cultures. Of course, it would open her
mind to new possibilities of thought and feeling. I could see her grasp of debate coming through.
She formed her argument concisely and eventually convinced me on the trip. I promised that for
her sixteenth birthday we would make the journey and even though this was years away, she
pleasantly accepted.
And so, for a while, everything was pleasant and calm. I encouraged Aleksandra to begin
her studies in Philosophy and Religion. She began her studies in Philosophy with fervor. She
devoured book after book on Aquinas, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Diotima of Mantinea, and others.
She particularly enjoyed the tale of Diotoma of Mantinea – Socrate’s teacher from his famous
Symposium. According to the wise Socrate’s, Diotoma handed down to him the theory of love.
She taught him that Poros and Penia, which represent lack and plenty, bore love. Love was a
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force that held the world together and acted as a messenger sending prayers from the lips of men
to the ear of the God’s. No one can ever know for certain if Diotoma was merely a fictional
character Socrate’s created or an actual philosopher – a pioneering female philosopher for her
time. Once, Aleksandra asked me if I knew the truth and I merely replied that I was old but not
quite that old.
She did enjoy her studies on philosophy and could be found, on most nights, sitting near a
fire, reading a dusty volume, and sipping away at some homemade herbal concoction. Often, I
would join her and discuss the philosophers and their theories and observations. She would
always say things like, “Oh, I wish Winston would return. He would find this more than
interesting, Mother.” I would always smile at this and wish, in my heart of hearts, that my
precious brother would return one day.
One evening, after hunting, I made my way home and was overcome with the aromatic
perfume of camphor and eucalyptus wafting through the somber halls. The candles were all lit
but sparsely spaced through out the humble rooms.
“Aleksandra?” I called out.
I felt her presence. She was indeed somewhere in the house, but where? And why the dim
lighting and the over abundant odor of eucalyptus catching my nostrils and reminding me of sick
rooms and haunted hospitals.
No answer. I walked into the living room. She wasn’t by the fire. Her book was lying on
the chair, her mug sitting on the floor.
I moved down the hall, tracing my fingers over the elegant molding on the walls, and
moved, cautiously, into the kitchen. There she stood, in front of the wood fire, a large copper
cauldron bubbling with the camphor and eucalyptus potion that I could smell from the front door.
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“Oh, Mother, your home,” she said in a muffled voice as the steaming vapor enveloped
her head in a cocoon.
“What are you brewing?” I asked as I moved to peer into the pot. It was a thick greenish
liquid bubbling vigorously. It was potent and smelled rather foul in the cauldron.
“I have a cold. The midwife by the Livery gave me this recipe. It’s supposed to be a
secret medicine that will relieve my suffering and purify the house of the evil that gave it to me.”
“Aleksandra! I can not believe you visited with that old crone! She’s a witch don’t you
know this? She worships the Devil! Who sent you to her? Why did you not summon for the
doctor?” I demanded. I reached for and she withdrew in fear.
“Mother, what is wrong? She isn’t the Devil. Don’t be so willing to judge before you
know the facts.” She went back to her stirring, her eyes lowered and looking intently at the
concoction brewing in the pot.
“Then, child, tell me the facts.” I took a seat on a chair in the far corner distancing myself
as far away as I could from the foul-smelling brew.
“All she makes are potions, Mother,” she explained in her steady and calm matter-offactly way. “She is a very wise woman, actually. She makes these little potions for health just as
the other midwives do. You should see all the ointments and teas in her house! And she has
taught me what a couple of them are and their properties. So, even I can make some potions at
home now. And those rumors are false, Mother. Truly, she doesn’t worship Satan, there are no
animal carcasses in her house, no evil symbols.” She shook her head and breathed in some of the
brewing concoction. “See, it’s beginning to relieve my congestion already.”
“Don’t be so naive, you can’t hear her thoughts as I can, Aleksandra.”
“Well, even so, it can’t hurt to learn about plants and such, right?” she asked. Her
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innocence was apparent as she looked at me with those large almond eyes.
“No, I suppose not. But, to be safe, why don’t you learn those things from one of the
other midwives or healers. It would put me at ease knowing you weren’t in that house.” I hugged
her firmly.
“If you wish, Mother.” She smiled and then returned to her brewing congealed muck.
“I wonder, Aleksandra, why this sudden interest in healing?”
She laid the wooden paddle-spoon down on the counter and turned to face me. She
hesitated with her answer. Her hands were scrunched behind her back and her head was bowed.
“Well, and I know this will sound foolish, but I’m trying to find a cure.” She folded her
hand across her chest rather defensively.
“Why would I find that foolish?” I laughed softly. “But, my child, who or what are you
trying to cure?”
“Actually, I’m trying to find a cure for Anastasia.”
“Oh, I see.” I was dumbfounded by her answer, how selfless a thought, how human.
“Now, Mother,” she explained. “I know I could never cure her completely, but maybe I
could relieve some of her symptoms. I know she’s doing well in school but eventually she’s
going to come home. What’s going to happen then? What if she starts hearing voices again,
seeing ghosts, trying to hurt others and herself?”
“You have a good argument, as always, but I don’t understand how herbs are going to
help her any. Aleksandra, she’s being haunted. She needs an exorcism not a sip of tea.”
“Do you really think they are ghosts, Mother? Or vampires, as she says? I have lived with
her and I’ve seen her talking to them. Mother, you know I never seen anyone in the room when
she claimed they were there. Thus, I conclude that they are in fact neither ethereal nor vampiral
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but that they are hallucinations from her mind. She is sick, Mother.”
“Well, either way,” I said as I moved closer to the living room entranceway. “Finish with
that brew and then get rid of it. I can’t handle that stench.”
She gave me a subtle look of acceptance and then began bottling the mixture into a few
glass flasks that stood near to her on the counter. I made my way into the living room and sat
down in front of the roaring fire. The shadows the raging flames created danced happily on the
dark walls. The only light in the room came from the fire and that was plenty of light for me.
“Some posts came for you today,” Aleksandra yelled from the kitchen. “I put them on
your desk.”
I could see the small pile calling to me from the desk. There must have been seven or
eight letters piled one on top of the other. I collected them and returned to my cozy chair that,
thanks to the raging fire, was nice and warm and felt heavenly on my cold skin.
I noticed two invitations as I thumbed through the thick stack of letters. I casted those
aside though until I got to a post, which appeared to bear the seal of the Pope. It was not a letter
from the Pope, of course, but a note from my Winston. He had snuck into the Holy Father’s
chambers in the wee hours of the morning and scribbled out a quick note for me. He had even
been so bold as to seal it with the papal seal. This made me chuckle. My dear brother, my
Winston, such a sense of humor he had.
“Aleksandra, come here please,” I called out.
I could hear her setting down the wooden ladle and then her footsteps creep upon me as
she entered the room.
“Yes?” she asked innocently. I handed her the letter.
“It seems Winston will be returning home in a few nights. He sent this post from Rome,
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of all places.” I could see the enthusiasm in her face.
“Really?” She read over the letter briefly. “He is returning! Oh, mother, I am so excited! I
wonder if he will bring me any presents from his travels?”
“Aleksandra, there are more important things than presents. Anyway, I’m sure he is
bringing you something he is Winston after all. I think he survives just to spoil you. Now, finish
bottling that stuff up and get to bed. It reeks!”
“Yes, mother.” And with this she was gone.
I thumbed through the remaining letters. I had been invited to three parties and one
wedding and would most likely attend none of them. Of course, I would have to attend any of
these parties if my darling Pavel attended. I knew he waited for me to come this evening.
I knew I had to go to him when I came across the last post in my stack. It was from
Anastasia’s boarding school. They had written to inform me that Anastasia’s marks were
beginning to slip and that some of her classmates made reports of some “strange behavior” on
her part. The letter was rather vague but I knew I had to discuss it with Pavel as soon as possible.
He could not afford a repeat of her earlier behavior.
I stood and put the letters in my desk, locking it behind me. I grabbed my red-velvet
cloak with the fur-lined hood from the back of my desk chair and threw it around my shoulders.
“I’m going to visit your father. Be in bed before one AM please. Your French tutor hates
waiting for you to wake up late and if I have to hire another one your father will not be pleased.”
“Don’t worry, mother, I am making my way to bed shortly,” she called back to me.
I was hit with obnoxious fumes as I walked down the hallway and was relieved to breathe
fresh, clean air when I walked out the door. The night sky was alluringly cloaked in a thick
blanket of stars. The constellations were bright and very pronounced against their ebony
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backdrop. Oh, the night was gorgeous. How many night skies had I seen like this? It had to be
countless. Yet, each one seemed different in it’s own special way. How comforting to know that
they too stayed the same century after century.
The air felt cool against my skin as I soared through the air. My feet were landing on his
balcony in a matter of seconds and I could detect his strong masculine scent behind the closed
With my left hand, I moved back the heavy drape and peered into the room. There he lay,
on the bed, in all his erotic nakedness. His hair was loose and free and tousled against the pillow.
I could tell his manhood was erect under the sheet, hidden discreetly.
“I’ve been expecting you, my lover,” he said as he motioned for me to come to him.
I forgot all prior business, all urgent matters, and merely concentrated on fulfilling his
lust filled desires and my own need to please.
I moved to his side and pressed my tongue to his closed lips. He gave way immediately
as I thrust my tongue inside his moist, hot mouth. His teeth felt sharp against my tongue.
“Take a taste,” he whispered.
“No,” I whispered in return. I was overwhelmed with the throbbing sounds coming from
his pulsating neck artery.
He pulled away. “Bree, I want you to taste of me. I want to taste of you. I want us to be as
intimate as we can be.”
“I’m afraid. I fear that tasting your blood will only make me crave it more than I already
do. I’m afraid that it will erase all rational thought and I’ll take you. I’m afraid that any residual
humanity in me will loose control and the animal will be released, and then you would be no
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I could feel his hand on my back and his lips on my neck. They were soft yet firm as they
caressed the nape and then up to my earlobe where he suckled and bit at it playfully.
“So,” he said in between caresses. “You’ll take me into you and then bring me into
eternity where I will live by your side always.”
I pulled away and faced him. How in love he was with me. How connected, attached, and
in need of me he was.
“No, Pavel, I could never bring you over into my world.” A lonely red tear fell down my
“I know. It’s just that, well, when you aren’t around I am filled with this dark depression.
It eats at me, bit by bit. I can’t live like this much longer. I know when I kiss you don’t feel the
same things I feel.”
“I know how it is. Mortal men need carnal pleasure but that’s not all they need. They
need the intimacy of a mortal woman and the feel of her warm flesh.” I spoke these words yet, it
was if someone else were speaking them. “Pavel, you need to take a bride. You need to find
someone that can give and receive the way I can not.”
We both sat there motionless. The wind howled outside. The fire crackled in the distance.
“It won’t change anything between us, will it?” he asked. He was afraid of the possible
Would it change things between us? I didn’t think so. Would I love him less? No, that
could not be possible. Would he love me less? That I didn’t know.
“It wouldn’t change anything for me, Pavel. I don’t think like a mortal no matter how
hard I try to.” I turned around and placed my hand on his shoulders, gently and affirmingly.
“Now, my love, erase all doubt from your mind and just focus on the pleasure of the moment.
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Let us not concern ourselves with the inevitable future. Yes, you will take a bride, eventually.
And yes, I will still be here like I am now, constant and unchanging, no matter how much I want
to change.”
He kissed my cheek and allowed his soft lips time to linger there.
“Your skin is cold, you have not fed,” he exclaimed. “Drink from me, as you do the
others, the tiny drink.”
“No,” I said refusing him. “I will not.”
“But you need to feed.”
“No, I do not require blood every evening.” I turned towards him.
“Oh, I see.” This was all he said.
Time crept by slowly, minutes lingered and drifted aimlessly while I held his perfectly
naked body against mine. His smell was so human, so pure. I could smell his blood. I could
almost taste it in the air.
After a long while, he turned to me innocently. His eyes were beautifully large and open,
staring into my own.
“You do know I love you, right?” I asked.
Something in his eyes frightened me. He had this look, this wild look, as if he knew
something I didn’t. This couldn’t be though and all I had to do was listen to his thoughts. But
alas, I couldn’t force myself to pry.
“Pavel?” I asked. His stare, which remained vacant and wild, was giving me the shivers.
“You know I speak the truth and that I love you terribly.”
“Um, yes, of course,” he said awaking from his sudden stupor. “And I love you to, my
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“Then what is troubling you?” I asked.
“I’m not quite sure. Perhaps, I’m just now realizing the limitations of our relationship. I
mean Bree, look at us. My hair is graying, turning silver, the lines on my face are increasing, and
you haven’t changed one bit since the night we met.”
“Pavel, I told you this would happen eventually,” I replied. “I was so foolish to think that
I could… Oh, how foolish I have been…”
“My darling,” he whispered. I could feel his firm hand on the back of my neck.
“I understand if you want to be alone. I do.” He moved to interject but I continued on.
“And I know you will never, nay could never, forget about me, Pavel,” I said, the crimson tears
already rolling down my ivory cheeks like raindrops. “Please know I understand and I will never
come near you, or hurt your family, or bring any ill will to your line.”
“Bree,” he said firmly taking my hands in his. “I don’t want to forget about you and I
especially don’t want you to forget about me.”
“Then what do you want, Pavel?”
“My Love, I want to be like you. I want to be constant like you. I want our love, also, to
be eternal,” he said.
“This is truly what you want, then?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“You would no longer see the sun, feel it’s warmth, see how it kisses the earth with it’s
“I understand,” he said.
“You would no longer need food. Do you think you would miss it?”
“No, I can’t imagine I would.”
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“You would be forced to hide yourself from certain people, constantly enter and exit
other people’s lives. Could you ever force yourself to leave this castle, these people whom would
you give your life for, your children, and run off to reinvent your identity?” I asked.
He sat quiet for a few minutes thinking. Finally he answered, “Yes, I can do that. Leaving
my daughters would be difficult, but I would do what was necessary.”
“And the blood? Could you drink nothing but blood for the rest of eternity?”
“I would crave only it, thus I assume I would do just fine,” he answered.
“What about murder? Would you take lives to feed your own monstrosity of an
existence?” I asked.
“I would until I could survive on the tiny feedings that you sustain yourself with.”
I stood and walked to the drapes moving them back so I could stare up into the night sky.
I motioned for Pavel to come stand by me. “See the constellations, Pavel, the stars?” I asked.
He nodded. “Those were the same stars I looked at when I was a little girl. They have
never changed and they never will.”
“Yes, they are beautiful,” he observed.
“Pavel, they are foreign. They are a mystery just as I am to mankind.”
“Pavel, I could never give you my blood. If I shared this curse with you, I would loose
the last ounce of sanity I have. My Love, I would go into the sun with madness. I would die, and
perhaps it would be comforting. Perhaps, I would be with the stars existing on some astral plane.
Or, I would go to Heaven or Hell. Either way, I would know I had made you and that you were
walking the Earth being a monster filled with my blood. My soul could never rest knowing that.”
“But I would never allow you to go into the sun. Bree, we would live together forever!
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There is no dying just living.”
“Do you think of me as ‘living’? Let me reassure you, I am not. Pavel, nothing was meant
to live forever. Nothing and nobody.”
“Do you not see yourself living forever, then?” he asked.
“No, I do not.”
“At some point, and I don’t know when that will be, the turmoil of this world is going to
catch up with me. The things I’ve seen, and am to see, the people I have met, and am to meet; it
will all accumulate. There is only so much anger, greed, depression, hate, and confusion one can
endure. Believe me. Some day, I am going to tire of it all. It will consume me, this world, and I
will no longer be able to exist in it,” I answered.
“And when I die?” he asked.
“I will be right here, holding you hand, as I’ve always promised I would be,” I answered.
“What if I’ve moved on? What if I’ve replaced you?” he asked, his voice cold and
“If you’ve replaced me?” I said thinking on this. “Well, then I would be happy for you.”
“Happy?” he asked, surprised.
“Yes, happy.”
“How could you be happy if I no longer loved you?” he asked.
“Pavel, I don’t think you’ll ever stop loving me,” I answered.
“No, I don’t think I ever will either.”
“What a mortal woman can give you, I can not. And because of my love for you, I can
not deny you these things.”
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“Bree, if you will not make me immortal then I will have to take a wife. The rumors are
circulating in court. I seriously fear a revolt.”
“I see our relationship moving on to a different phase now, is it not?” I said, smiling.
“I guess it is. Nothing will really change though. Even if, by some odd chance I do fall in
love with whomever I marry, I would never stop loving you,” he said.
“And I would never stop loving you,” I replied.
I tenderly kissed his lips. He held me as if I was the vulnerable one, as if I was the one
falling to pieces inside. Change was inevitable, I knew this, and I had always known this. Change
would be good for us, in the long run. Change was needed in order to grow. Change was required
to move forward.
So several weeks went by and I had yet to receive any further news from Anastasia’s
school. I still visited Pavel as I had always done. Everything was the same, more or less; the only
exception being that he knew things were going to be changing at some point. His wishes to
become immortal ended, thankfully. Winston had also returned and with him he had brought
several trinkets for Aleksandra’s pleasure. She was indeed spoiled by him but it was just fine
with me. He doted on her like a second father yet, I knew he longed to be more than that. He had
always seen past her age and into her heart. She never acted like a child always holding herself to
adult standards. I think, on some level, the kid in her struggled to get out at times only to be
beaten into submission. It was a way of protecting herself, I’m sure.
Life continued on and everyone was content in his or her situation. And it wasn’t until the
dawning of spring that I got another post from Anastia’s boarding school. It seemed that she had
been excelling in all her studies until the beginning of the spring term. Enclosed in the letter had
been a brief description of how a Chemistry professor had found her sitting in the garden one
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evening. “She appeared considerably anxious with her hands clinging to her skirt.” The letter had
read. “She was staring at nothing, I saw nothing at least, but to her something was there. I
approached cautiously and with much hesitance. She took no notice of my callings or of my
presence. Then, quite suddenly, she stood and walked away. I followed her and left her side once
she was safely in her room. Oddly, she never noticed my hand gripping her shoulder.”
The letter went on to explain that the professors had questioned her the next day and that
she had denied the entire event. They thought that perhaps a young lad in town had slighted her.
However, their investigations ended abruptly when a dear friend of Anastasia’s testified to her
‘high virtue and disregard for men in any form and of any age.’ This statement intrigued me but
the feeling was fleeting and I quickly returned to concern and bewilderment.
Anastasia’s paranoid thoughts and delusions combined with her aggressive tendencies
worried me. At haste, I took the letter to Pavel. It worried him considerably. What it could mean,
we did not know. She was sick, yes; for once this we agreed on. Pavel wanted to yank her from
the school and place her in watched custody. I felt this would hinder her and erase any progress
she may have had while away at school. Inevitably, we decided I would travel to her school and
look upon things with my own eyes.
I sent word the following evening of my intended visit and then waited five more nights
to journey there. If I had been human and limited in my traveling methods it would have taken
that many days, with nights being spent in various inns along the way, to reach the school. Of
course being a vampire and not limited in such a way, I made the journey through air in about
twenty minutes.
The smell of English soil and the mustiness in the air were invigorating and made me
reminiscent. The countryside was so quiet in England then. I was home, actually. Besides
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Winston, this was the only true link to my mortality. I missed the heavy fog that lingers on the
moors in the countryside. I missed the hazy complexion of the moon as it tries to push through
the heavy clouds. I could feel the dampness on my skin and the sweet taste of the soft dew on my
The road on which I landed was cobblestone, as most roads were in those days, and my
heels made a clicking sound when I landed. Buildings were all around me. Small, humble homes
full of families eating dinner around small tables. It wasn’t the dainty Cumbria I remembered
from my youth. It was evolving as was everything and everyone around it.
Through the low-lying haze I could see the shady outline of the massive girls boarding
school in front of me only a mile or two away. I decided to walk the cobblestone path that led to
the school. I enjoyed the sound of my heels clicking on the stones.
As I approached the school, I could see it’s stately halls brooding against the sky like a
wall guarding the surrounding countryside. The exterior was made of slate-gray coursed square
blocks with chamfered pith. The roof was made of graduated stone and was flagged with stone
coping and kneelers. The two-story building had a humble bell cote on the south end and a
sizable brick chimney on the north end. It was a massive school; nothing like it existed in Russia.
There were scattered lights throughout the building. Only a few professors were awake
and reading by candlelight in their rooms. I could hear one reading through his students’ papers,
his voice laced with boredom. And then another sitting too close to the fire, reading from a worn
copy of the Holy Bible. He was stumbling on some of the Latin text but, overall, appeared quite
fluent in the language.
I took my time admiring the front grounds as I walked towards the main door, my heels
tapping away on the flagstone. The lawn was immaculately groomed, each bush appropriately
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placed, and not a single leaf on the ground despite the swift wind brewing in the night air.
I went to the door, a thick maple door about nine feet in height, and, placing the large
knocker in my palm, rapped upon the door four times. I waited for a few minutes. After getting
no response, I rapped upon the door four more times. This produced an elderly man, hunched
over with age and wearing a blue dressing gown and white night cap. From behind a freshly lit
candelabrum, he peered at me with wise eyes and a sorrowful frown.
“What, pray you, do you want at this hour?” he grimaced.
“Sir, I have come on behalf of one of your schools’ pupils. I need to speak with the Head
Master, please.”
“Humph,” he groaned in an annoyed manner. “Wait here while I fetch the Master.”
With this he stepped into the foyer, placed the candelabra on a side table, and slipped into
the darkness of the hallway. The darkness enveloped him like a thick blanket of nothingness and
in a short time nothing could be heard of his shuffling feet but a faint echo in the distance.
Several minutes passed before I could see a short pudgy man come barreling down the
hallway holding a large candle looking rather perturbed. His gait was wide and his feet made a
loud thudding sound as they fell on the wood flooring. The tails of his blue and white striped
nightgown swished against his stout legs making a slight whispering sound that only my ears
could pick up.
“Lady, make this brief,” he spoke to me in a scratchy yet masculine voice.
“Head Master, I’ve come about Anastasia Vladislov.”
“Ah,” he sighed heavily then let forth a hearty yawn. “Please then, do come in.”
He showed me into a spacious parlor and offered me a seat in large, Gothic style velvet
chair. He then excused himself and made haste to his chambers to make himself ‘presentable.’ I
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admired the strikingly dark surroundings as a petite woman, whom I presumed to be the maid,
went about the room lighting candles. She offered me refreshments, which I politely declined. I
watched as she, with relief in her eyes, retired into a small room just off the parlor. I heard a key
slip into the doors’ lock and then, shortly after, the sound of her head hitting the pillow.
The room itself was an eclectic display of Gothic and Medieval styles. Various large
throne-like chairs stood about the room. The walls were a plum purple mysteriously accented by
dark red velvet drapery. An enormous grand fireplace stood at the end of the room but was quiet
with no fire in its spacious belly. All around me were marvelous bronze and marble statues and
intricate suits of armor. This was definitely not a room the school children were allowed in
A long moment of time passed by marked only by the ticking of the Grandfather clock in
the hallway. The house creaked in the night. The wood smelled of polish and the windows shone
in the moonlight.
After a while spent admiring my eclectic surroundings, the Head Master reentered the
room looking rather polished and dignified but still quiet sleepy. How easy it would have been to
drink his blood. He would have never known for he was still in a sleepy state. I entertained these
thoughts as the man took a seat across from me and folded his arms across his broad chest.
“So, let us speak, but first why do you come at night and not during the day?” he asked
still in that annoyed tone of voice.
“I prefer to travel this way. It shouldn’t concern you. Besides, I wrote of my intentions
and of my arrival time. Did you not think having someone awake to greet me on my arrival
would be customary?” I asked, forcefully.
He seemed to retreat into the chair, his hands pressing together, his fingers touching his
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“Yes, I apologize for that. Exams have me rather distracted at the moment. I must have
lost track of my dates.”
“It’s of no concern. Please, let it bother you no more,” I said, reassuringly.
“Then, let us discuss Anastasia,” he said as he rang for the maid. The small bronze bell
hit the table with a clang as he sat it down. “Her behavior, since the letter, hasn’t changed yet, It
hasn’t improved.”
“Pray tell, what sort of things have been happening?” I asked, curious as well as fearing.
The maid appeared in the room, dishelved and weary, and was sent towards the kitchen in
search of coffee. After she was from our sight, he began recounting the events to me.
“Not three nights ago, Anastasia was seen, by the maid of all people, standing in the
kitchen with a blank look on her face. Now, she didn’t speak but she appeared alert. Ms. Eliza
then approached her and placed her hand on the girls’ shoulder. With this, Anastasia jumped and
ran to her bed. We had no other problems that night,” he said.
Ms. Eliza appeared in the room, delivered the steaming coffee and confirmed his story.
“I see. Has anything else been happening? Has she claimed to see people who were,
obviously, not in the room? Has she been hearing voices?” I asked.
He sat back, sipping at his coffee. The steam from the porcelain cup rose fogging up his
glasses, which I hadn’t noticed him putting on, and he was then forced to place the cup down and
wipe the collected dew from the wire rimmed spectacles. They looked at home on his face and
added to his distinguished demeanor.
“No, no reports of visions but.” He drew in another gulp of steaming black coffee and
then continued, “Just yesterday, during a History lesson, Anastasia kept talking to someone
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under her breath. Now, the professor, a Mr. Hubert, calmly asked her to stop and she did for a
little while. But according to him, she resumed talking with this imaginary friend before the
lesson was over.”
This news was both intriguing and frightening at the same time. If those voices were the
voice of her ‘vampires’ and they held the same names, then merely changing locations wasn’t
going to help her escape this torment.
“Did this voice, this imaginary friend, have a name? What did it tell her?”
“I asked her this after Mr. Hubert brought her to my office. Now, normally we wouldn’t
have taken such drastic actions but due to her recent behavior, we took no precautions,” he
paused to refill his cup with the now warm coffee and this time plopped two sugar cubes and a
splash of cream into the cup. He then swirled the mixture about and took a long and pleasurable
gulp. “Nevertheless, despite all my intense questioning, all I could ascertain was that the friend
was female and she disliked Mr. Hubert.”
“Have you taken precautions to ensure Mr. Hubert’s safety?” I asked.
“Oh,” he laughed softly. “I don’t think any harm will come to him. I’ve known many a
child who disliked their teachers.”
“Don’t laugh this off, Sir. She is no ordinary child,” I said as I rose from my seat and
begun pacing the room. “She’s disturbed.”
“Disturbed?” he asked in a slightly alarmed voice. “How so?”
“She hears voices,” I explained. “Talks to people only she can see…”
“I detect something hidden in your speech. What is it you are hiding?”
I took my seat across from him. I planted my elbows on my knees; my feet planted firmly
to the floor as if preparing for a fight, and spoke forth the true reality of Anastasia’s ‘illness.’
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“She has tried to harm others, harm herself even,” I began. “In an effort to halt this
behavior, she was sent here.”
“The girl is troubled, perhaps deeper now than when she came to us, and you never felt a
need to enlighten me on her past?” he said, his voice growing with anger.
“Calm yourself, Sir, before something unkindly happens to you!” I commanded in a
steady and reassuring tone. “Now, we had reason to believe that sending her here would halt the
process of whatever disease plagues her. For awhile this had worked. She is intelligent and this
school has awoken in her a thirst for knowledge. Her progress, until now, has been
“Yes, I must agree with you on that, Anastasia has excelled in many of her studies. But
this current behavior, it’s too destructive and disturbing to ignore. I can’t have her harming my
students. Please, share with me the specifics of her past and perhaps we can work something
I explained to him, in broad terms – keeping all names confidential – her entire violent
history. He was shocked, most expectedly, and horrified. His eyebrows, thick and unkempt,
crinkled with his brow.
“Then it is agreed, you will have her ready tomorrow evening and I will come for her,” I
said as he walked me to the main door.
The dewy mist of the fast approaching morn’ was already casting it’s soft blanket on the
fresh lawn. As I stepped out onto the flagstone the mist collected on my face like a thin veil and I
began smelling the refreshing scent of morning.
“Yes, she will be ready and waiting for your carriage at half past nine,” he affirmed
through a thick and hearty yawn.
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“And this matter, I trust, will be kept in the strictest confidence?”
“Yes, Ma’am, you have my word.” He shook his head to reassure me.
“So be it.”
I watched as he retreated into the school. The thick door made a loud thud, as it slammed
shut. I walked down the path at a natural pace, a much slower cadence than a vampire is
accustomed to, I assure you, and was within the limits of a forest in a matter of minutes. I then
took to the air and retreated for the night, hidden away - concealed from the blinding light of day.
The next evening, on schedule, I arrived in a handsome carriage to find a blossoming
young woman standing – with bags in tow- at the front gate. She wore a pristine ivory dress with
a cranberry cape concealing her curly black hair. They were ringlet curls; not natural but styled
that way. Her face, so unlike her paler twin’s, had a slight tan on it from being in the country.
I tapped the roof of the carriage signaling for the coachman to stop. He then went
henceforth to loading her bags onto the carriage top and escorting the young lady to her seat
across from me. Her hood covered her eyes as she stared sullenly at her feet. She dared not speak
for several minutes, nor did she look up. Eventually, I signaled for the coachman to proceed to an
Inn not five miles up the road.
Waiting for her to speak and finding her not forth coming, I decided, quite provokingly,
to invoke some conversation between us.
“Anastasia, do you remember who I am?” I asked. The sound of the horses’ hooves
pounding against the gravel road was near deafening. I hollered for the coachman to slow in his
pace, which he did right away lessening the sound and making it easier to carry on a
conversation. I then continued with my polite questioning. “Do you remember the night I came
to you in the dungeon cell?”
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“Yes, my lady, I do remember,” she said softly. Her voice sounded innocent yet her mind
was jumbled and in a constant scramble.
“Why don’t you look up? I want to see your beautiful eyes! I want to see how you’ve
grown!” I asked merrily trying to conceal the fact that I knew her thoughts and new what
troubled her mind.
With this request, she lifted her face and pulled back the hood to reveal a bountiful bulk
of shiny black hair. It was gorgeous. She had become a stunningly beautiful young woman. She
removed the cape, setting it neatly on the seat beside her. I glanced about her figure now and
found it rather pleasing. She was well endowed for her age, sporting a plump and generous
bosom, and her waist was trim. She would turn heads in court, for sure, and give pleasure to
many roaming eyes.
“You have grown into a gorgeous young lady, Anastasia,” I assured her.
“Thank you,” she replied.
“Do you know why you were removed from school?” I asked cautiously.
“Do you want to know?” I asked.
“I have no yearning to know. It is of no concern to me why I have been removed. I
presume it’s to do with my behavior, as they claim it is odd, but, for all I know, it’s time for me
to leave. Everyone leaves school eventually, it must simply be my turn,” she replied.
She proved to be much refined from her experience abroad. Her education, although the
years were short, aided her immensely. And even though she still possessed this illness or
disease in her mind, I felt it no longer drove her to the madness it once did.
“Well, then, it is your ‘turn’ to return to Russia. You may look at it like that, if you wish,”
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I responded.
“Tell me,” she looked me square in the eye and began. “Where is it that I will live? I
presume father is still alive? Shall I be living with him or with you? Or do you reside with him
“Well, Anastasia,” I began to explain. “You will be residing with your father in the
palace. I do not reside there with him.”
“And my sister? Does she still live with you?”
“Yes, she does along with my brother,” I responded.
“Ah, I see, and tell me, if you will, has father taken a new bride?” she asked.
“No, he has not.”
“And his health?”
“He is in good health, Anastasia.”
“I’m just curious, that is all,” she defended.
“I did not say you were unjust in your questioning, Anastasia. Does something trouble
you?” I asked.
“Everything troubles me,” she responded coldly.
Nothing more was said until we approached the inn. I had the coachman leave her bags
outside the door, and telling him we needed no further assistance, I sent him away with a
generous tip. She began entering the inn and I pulled her back by the hood of her cape.
“No, we are not spending the evening here, Anastasia.”
“Then where are we to sleep? I’m tired,” she asked.
“You will be sleeping in your old bed tonight,” I said.
“Pardon?” she asked in a rather British way, her voice reflecting the tones of the English
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countryside. “And how is this to be accomplished?”
“Just secure your bags to your person,” I said as I tossed her satin rope from my side
pouch. “And hold on tight.”
I swept her into my arms and held on tightly. She looked around as if I had gone mad. As
we descended into the air, swiftly and steadily, she sheepishly exclaimed, “I must be dreaming!”
Chapter Nine
She was fast asleep in my arms when we reached Pavel’s balcony. He rushed out to meet
us when he saw us land. I rushed past him and gently placed Anastasia on his bed. He came,
shortly after, to stand behind me.
“Behold your daughter, Pavel,” I said taking his hand, which had been placed gently on
my shoulder. “She has grown into a gorgeous young lady.”
“She resembles her mother,” he said. “And then, in her own way, she doesn’t. Yes, she is
gorgeous and likely to become even more so.”
“Yes, definitely,” I replied.
“Is her mind still troubled, as we feared?” he asked as he walked over to the fire and took
a seat in a stately and comfortable chair. He took the poker into his hand and began prodding the
fire for more flame.
“Perhaps worse then we feared,” I replied, gently moving my way towards the fire and
seating myself next to him on a velvet seti.
“Worse?” he asked. “How so?”
“Her mind seems to be constantly jumbled. Her thoughts are very unclear,” I said as I
looked towards the bed beholding the tender creature lying there. “It’s almost as if thoughts are
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struggling to surface but they are unable to. And then, in the mix of things, she is in there
somewhere trying to fight her own way to the surface.”
“Very confusing, indeed.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Do you think she’ll be fine living here? Is she in danger of herself or a danger to
others?” he asked.
“I can’t be certain yet. We must watch her, carefully but without suspicion.”
“Yes, we will,” he said staring into the fire.
I rose from the seti and journeyed over to the bed where she silently slumbered. She
began to stir but it was only a dream.
“Pavel,” I said, making him turn away from the fire and direct his attention on me. “I’ve
returned her to you safely, now I must be off before the breaking of dawn. I must tell Aleksandra
that her sister has returned.”
So I left the palace knowing the morning would bring a renewed hope for a relationship
between Pavel and Anastasia, a new beginning. All that remained was to inform Aleksandra of
her sister’s return. In the two years since Anastasia was sent away Aleksandra had changed
immensely. She had become more analytical, logical, and began to display an intense thirst for
knowledge. I was unsure how Anastasia’s sudden return would affect her.
As I approached my estate, I noticed candlelight coming from the parlor window and
from Winston’s study. Deciding to be done with things so I could venture to my resting-place
undisturbed, I headed for the parlor. I heard Aleksandra’s usual page turning; fold, crease, and
then her fingers shuffling down the page. I never asked her why she did that last thing, running
her fingers over the page as she did, but I’m sure she had a good reason. She hardly ever did
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anything just because.
The fire was dying out when I entered the room. The subtle light of a solitary candle,
sitting upon a table near to her, gave the room an eerie glow. She was dressed in her
nightclothes, a peach colored gown with a fussy floral pattern on it’s embroidered edging. Her
hair, concealed in a sleeping cap, was falling out strand by strand at the nape of her neck. She
looked relaxed and unexpecting and I felt like a predator watching her through the doorway.
“Aleksandra,” I said softly.
This caused her to slam her book shut and turn towards me in one swift move. She was
like a cat sometimes, cunning and quick.
“Mother, you’ve returned!” She rose from her chair. “Winston wasn’t sure where you had
been off to or when you would be coming back. I’m relieved that your journey didn’t keep you
from us much longer.”
She wrapped her thin arms around me and embraced me. I felt loved in her arms. I felt a
mother’s love, even though I had not born her she still held to me as a mother. Perhaps, in a way
that fuels my need to belong, I did become her mother when I saved her from her sister. Perhaps,
I should look at Mavra as a surrogate. For it was I who persuaded she and Pavel form the union
that produced the sisters. And then, it was I, who took in and cared for Aleksandra after
Anastasia’s violent attack on her life. Yes, if you were to look at it like that, I was her mother. I
loved her, cared for her, and worried about her. What else would a true mother do for her that I
haven’t done?
“Yes.” I returned her embrace.
“So, what have you brought me?” she asked as she returned to her seat.
“Brought you? What makes you think I brought you anything?” I teased.
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“Come now, you always bring me something from you travels.”
“Well, yes, I do,” I replied taking my own seat next to her and the dimming fire.
“So, where is it?” she asked, excitedly.
“Aleksandra,” I began, crossing my legs and folding my hands in my lap. “I’m not so
sure you’ll like what I brought back with me.”
“Oh, now, of course I will. I always do! Is it a trinket? A jewel?” she prodded.
“No. No, trinket or jewels,” I said. “I traveled to England…”
Before I knew it, she interjected, “Traveled to England? Without me? Mother!”
I could see tears forming in her eyes but she held them back as if her lids were tiny
“Let me finish, Aleksandra,” I said. She began to calm down, sitting back in the chair,
and letting her arms rest and her hands dangled from the sides of the chair. “I went to England to
fetch your sister.”
“Anastasia?” she exclaimed. “But why?”
“She had gotten much worse and could no longer be in that school. I was forced to claim
her and bring her home to Russia,” I replied.
“She won’t live here, will she?” she asked. She was frightened and her voice was shaky.
“No, she’ll stay at the Palace with your father,” I replied. I could see her composure ease
slightly. “She will not hurt you again, don’t worry yourself so.”
“If she is still sick then can we confine her to a sickroom, no? You know, until a cure can
be found?” she asked now more concerned than frightened.
“We are not confining her to anything. She will be given every opportunity you have. She
will live a normal life and not be treated like a crazy person and locked away from society,” I
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responded sternly.
“But what if she tries to hurt someone? What then?” asked she.
“I’m not sure she still possesses that thought, Aleksandra. Her mind is still troubled, yes,
but to a farther degree. She’s hidden inside herself and doesn’t appear to be malevolent.”
“Nevertheless, I cannot treat her as a sister, as an equal, until she is free of her diseased
mind,” she said coldly.
“Pardon? You will treat her as a sister because she is your sister!” I demanded. “I don’t
understand why you wouldn’t treat her as such.”
“It’s simple, Mother, I’m protecting myself,” she replied.
“Protecting yourself?” I asked. “Protecting yourself from what, exactly? I’ve promised
that you will not come to harm.”
“It’s not my physical harm that concerns me,” she said. “It’s my integrity, my
preservation, my future that I seek to protect.”
“She has changed much, Aleksandra,” I said.
“And so have I, mother.”
“So be it, then,” I said. “I’m off to my slumber. Promise me that you will not venture to
the palace until I’ve returned at nightfall?”
“That shan’t be a problem,” she said as she cracked open her book. “The promise will be
kept. Now, sleep well, Mother.”
With that she returned to her book as if I had already left her. Winston had gone to his
resting-place long ago. I no longer felt his presence in the house. So, being that the sun was
creeping over the hills and the horizon was already turning a vibrant orange color, I took to the
air and sought forth my secret chamber.
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Sleep came that day like a thunderous crash. I was exhausted from my journey to get
Anastasia and from my conversation with Aleksandra. That conversation had troubled me
deeply. I knew that Aleksandra loved her sister, for sisters are bound by love, but she didn’t trust
her or hold her in friendly terms. Frankly, I think Aleksandra would’ve been perfectly fine if her
sister’s condition had improved, she remained in England, and the two never met again. But,
alas, that was not to be so.
It was several weeks before we dared a meeting between the two. During that time,
Aleksandra toiled away endlessly in the kitchen trying to find the perfect cure for her sister.
Despite the fear welling up inside her, she trudged on day and night. The smells in the house
were never the same each night. She experimented with camphor, lavender, and even sage. Some
of these concoctions proved rather pleasant smelling while others, and there were plenty others,
stank and reeked through the house of unpleasant and obnoxious odors.
Anastasia, on the other hand, was beginning to bond with her father, although, neither of
them trusted the other. Anastasia proved rather sly and cunning during these weeks and I visited
often at night wanting to keep a close eye on the girl. She looked all the part of a women not that
of a child becoming one. Her sister had scarcely begun to develop and Anastasia was most surely
done developing.
Within weeks rumors begun to circulate of her rendezvous with men from the court. She
denied these claims but, when I peered into her thoughts, I could see her with these men. She
would seduce them with her ample bosom and lure them into a false security. After they would
have their way with her she would either cry or become angry and defensive. Never did she cry
rape and never did she admit to these liaisons. A dark cloud hung low when Anastasia was at
court parading around like a little Trollope.
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I kept the distance between the sisters for as long as I possibly could. I could think of no
valuable reason why they should have met. And all this was going splendidly until Pavel was
called away to end a dispute near Russia’s northern border. He was gone nearly a year. I met
with him, secretly and discreetly, as the circumstances allowed.
But, let me return my focus to the twins. During the year of Pavel’s absence, I had every
opportunity to devote my time and energy on the girl’s development. Aleksandra continued to
excel in her studies and her knowledge of foreign languages continued to increase. Anastasia, on
the other hand, went through tutors on an almost weekly basis. Soon, we ran out of willing tutors
and she was forced to end her studies. She was just fine with this for it gave her a plentitude of
time for flirting, copulating, and retreating into herself.
Then the day came when the two met, rather unexpectedly. It was a quiet evening and
Winston, Aleksandra, and myself were sitting in front of the fire playing a game of chance. I
enjoyed passing the time like this with Aleksandra. As we played our game and the clock struck
nine, there was a tapping at the door. Within seconds, I could hear the housekeeper’s footsteps
on the stairs. Not shortly thereafter, I heard the door open and Anastasia walk in. Before she
could be announced properly, I summoned for her to enter.
In she walked dressed in an elegant gown of golden color and her hair strung up in pearls.
Her delicate earlobes were weighted down with the heaviness of the large, round ruby earrings
she wore. Aleksandra looked rather demure against her sister’s display of wealth. She was
simply dressed in a tan over dress with a scarlet shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Her hair
hung loose and tousled and her face bore not one stitch of rouge. I could sense Aleksandra’s
uneasiness when her sister entered the room and I can’t say I didn’t share that feeling.
She greeted us in a genial manner and truly her mind harbored no ill will at this meeting.
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But alas, her mind was so deeply clouded with illness I could never get a full grasp on her
thoughts. So in essence, a part of her was hidden from me and I feared it was hidden from her as
Winston made small talk with her on the weather, the pleasantries of palace, and how she
liked being in Russia again. She expressed many opinions that evening. For one, she preferred
the countryside of England to the freeze of Russia. Secondly, she enjoyed palace life and being
paraded in court. It seemed, on the surface, that Anastasia was growing accustomed to palace
life, once again, and the severity of her symptoms had yet to resurface.
During the course of her stay, which was no more than an hour, Aleksandra said not a
word to her sister or vice versa. Not even a glance was exchanged between them. Anastasia
ranted on, rather proudly, about her time in England and her schooling. She paraded the
expansive library, intricate chemistry lab, and the immaculately kept school gardens, in front of
Aleksandra teasing her.
Aleksandra’s thoughts were envious in nature. She longed to experience life abroad. She
longed to learn from skilled teachers and loose herself in dusty volumes in foreign libraries.
Maybe this envy, combined of course with the past harmful attempts on her life, helped to create
the seed of hatred Aleksandra felt, so intensely, for Anastasia.
The hour ended with nothing really accomplished. The visit was unexplained and due
primarily to Anastasia’s loneliness. Since Pavel had been called away she was left with no one to
talk to. Most of the household staff was the same and remembered her as the ‘evil little miss.’
Thus, not even the lowliest of maids would give her an upward glance. The only company she
had was from the drunken men she lured into her quarters. She seduced them in an attempt to
seek love and acceptance, none of which was achieved.
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The air was heavy with tension after Anastasia left. Aleksandra sat poking at the fire, a
distant look in her eyes. Winston looked at me and then turned his glance towards Aleksandra
and shook his head.
“Aleksandra,” I began. “Did you not have anything you wanted to say to your sister? She
has been gone for two years and not one word transpired between the two of you.”
“What would you have me say, mother?” she asked.
“Well, you could have inquired on her well-being, anything to make conversation,
really,” I replied.
“Inquire on her well-being?” she asked, cynically, “I believe she is the same as always,
crazy and dangerous.”
“Perhaps, but she is still your sister. You should show some mercy sometimes,” Winston
commented from his chair.
“Oh, now you side with Mother? Great! Wonderful! Why not invite her to live here as
well!” she exclaimed. She rose from her chair in a hastily manner and began stomping towards
the door.
“Aleksandra!” I exclaimed in a firm voice. “Child, why, may I ask, do you harbor such
intense hatred for your sister yet, you slave away endlessly trying to find a cure for her troubled
She stopped at the door, her hand resting on the knob. She allowed her head to hang
slightly, yet she did no turn towards me. Her left arm went slightly limp at her side while her
right hand hung loosely onto the doorknob.
“I don’t know,” she replied in a mousy voice.
“Do not lie when you know I can look into your thoughts.” I said in a sternly fashion,
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which I hardly ever used when speaking to Aleksandra.
“Perhaps,” she began as she turned the silver knob causing the door to become ajar. “If I
can find a cure, or some relief for her troubled mind, then we could be equals. We could even
grow to be friends.”
“She is your sister and she should also be your friend,” I replied softly.
“She may be my sister, my blood,” she said as she turned to face me. Her eyes were cold
and black with hatred. “But, she is not my family and I will not trust or love her.”
With this, she walked out of the room and shut the door as she left. The room seemed still
and empty without her presence. Her life, her beating heart, her flowing blood, her innocence
and vitality had gone and all that was left – two lifeless beings longing for everything she took
with her.
A few minutes went by and Winston asked if he should go after her. I told him to let her
be. The night air coming through her opened bedroom window would provide the relief she
required. Let her teardrops collect on the pillow, it’s satin covering stained by her moist cheeks.
Let her thoughts and feelings work themselves out. She needed to learn to fight her own battles
sometimes, and this was one that only she could sort out. Some lessons, I explained to him, need
to be learned on a solitary basis.
I knew much of the struggle she felt existed because Anastasia was sent away to boarding
school. I knew her thoughts and feeling on this subject all to well. It vexed her to no end. That
night, Winston and I discussed sending her away to school. There was no question that she
would excel in her studies and the prospect of her making friends her age only bettered the
argument. But, without Pavel’s consent I was weary about sending her away. What if he
disapproved? Winston urged me to search for him but I would not.
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It was decided that night, while Aleksandra slept and Anastasia cavorted with a married
man in her father’s bed, that Aleksandra would be sent away to school. I took full responsibility
and decided to seek out Pavel only after she was gone.
The next evening, when I returned to the house, I found the mood to be somber. Winston
was lying on his bed, still and quiet with his arms straight by his sides. His navy jacket
unbuttoned and open near the lapel showing the goldenrod colored shirt underneath made him
look the picture of a county gentleman. Yet, we weren’t in the country, we were in the wild’s of
Russia. And at that moment, that single second of reflection, I realized my garments resembled
that of an English Lady. I realized then that as far-removed in space and time we were from our
mortal youth, from our country, a part of it still lived in us. I found it comforting to know that my
heritage stayed the course of those long years since I gave up my life for eternity. And I also
found solace in seeing that what lived in me still lived in Winston. I was undeservingly blessed
with having my brother with me on such a journey as this.
“If you wish to enter then make haste, sister,” he remarked without turning to look my
way. “You’re letting in a draft!”
I closed the door and moved into his chamber. Trinkets from his travels were scattered
around like mindless clutter. A playbill from Paris lay open on the nightstand, candle wax
spilling over onto its white pages. The silk scarf he found on a doorstep in Sicily lay crumpled in
his chair; it’s crimson ripples like blood in the soft candlelight. A wooden mask from Africa
stared at me curiously. The air was laced with perfume, a scent strangely erotic and foreign but
one I had smelt in his room often lately.
The light reflected eerily off the room’s pale gray walls. Shadows lurked from behind his
various statues giving the room a mournful appearance. The room had seemed more cheerful,
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more alive, just weeks ago when I had come up to visit him. The room, on this occasion, seemed
dark and dank and sad, and I did not know why.
“Brother,” I spoke softly as I moved aside the crimson scarf, throwing it tenderly against
the back of the chair. “Will you not come into the parlor? I have much to discuss with you.”
“Can it not be discussed here? You have my attention, do not fear. Pray, speak your
mind,” he said as he sat half up against the headboard. He stretched his legs out on the bed and
folded his arms across his chest. In material form, he was there, but mentally, he was somewhere
I could neither know of nor go to.
“Of course it can,” I ejaculated cheerfully. He sat, attentive yet distant, waiting for me to
“I’ve made the arrangements for Aleksandra’s schooling. She is to leave a week
“A week?” he responded. “My that is sudden, is it not? Why not wait till the next term?”
“I need to get her far from Anastasia,” I said. “The two can’t meet again, especially
“Bree, I know Anastasia’s mind was clouded and it made it difficult when prying on her
thoughts but…”
I interjected forcefully, “It is not Aleksandra’s life I fear for, Winston!”
“What?” he asked. His face was scrunched, his nose wrinkled and his eyes appeared
slanted. “Why do you fear for Anastasia? Have I missed some key element in all of this?”
“Oh, brother, you have.”
“Then make haste and tell me what it is!”
“Winston,” I began, “I fear that Aleksandra will either heal or harm her sister and it’s the
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latter that I believe she is leaning towards.”
“But why?”
“You were there the other night; you heard her with your own ears.”
“Oh, yes, I do remember,” he said. “But, I don’t recall hearing a death threat in her
speech. Yes, she does harbor ill feelings towards her sister but that is understood when your own
kin tries to kill you.”
“Yes, I know, her feelings are justified,” I answered despondently.
“Then why send her off so quickly?” he asked.
“It’s just a hunch, really, a feeling,” I answered. “Please, just trust my decision and
support me.”
He rose from the bed and sat on the edge of it, across from me. He placed his hands on
his knees like he had always done when we were children. For a moment, a brief and fleeting
moment, I found myself retreating to my childhood and wanting my older brother’s arms around
me snugly letting me know life was all right.
“Of course I trust you decision and I will support it,” he smiled. “I guess this means I
must begin my good-bye’s…”
“I have yet to tell her,” I said.
“Oh. Perhaps, then, you should. A week is not a long time to prepare for such a change as
this,” he said.
“Yes, perhaps I should,” I said as I rose from the chair. “Please, excuse me, Brother.”
He nodded and moved back to the bed taking up his previous position. I left the room and
followed the sound of Aleksandra’s heartbeat. It led me down the long hallway to her room.
When I approached the room, her door closed and the light behind the door being recently
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extinguished, I feared knocking. I could still smell the burnt candlewick smoldering near her bed.
I hesitated there, in front of her door, lingering cowardly. If I knocked then she would
answer and I would be forced to let her go. I would be forced to part with her, to put hundreds of
miles of land between us. She would grow up, hardly visiting, and be yet, another stranger in my
ranks. The space between us would become wider and farther stretched and it pained me to begin
the separation by telling her this news.
I reached for the doorknob and, finding the door locked from within, I let go of the icy
brass orb. I knocked lightly yet it did not produce an answer. Again I knocked, this time more
urgently than before, and still no answer. “Aleksandra?” I called through the door. I heard neither
rustling of covers from the room nor any other signs of her stirring. I resigned myself, finally, to
call upon her the next night and earlier this time – before sleep could call her to her room.
Thinking it best not to linger in the house brooding on what troubled Winston and being
reminded of the child who slept upstairs’ unknowingly about to get her most wanted wish come
true, I set out for a brisk walk amongst the streets of Tver. The night air was crisp and the streets
surprisingly busy for such a late hour.
All sorts of society were out that evening, walking in the Town Square as if it were
daylight. I walked amongst them, brushing their mortal flesh as I walked past. All this life
surrounded me, all this bustling beauty, and yet, I couldn’t have felt more alone. I, a beast
dressed in an elegant gown, blended in the crowd. I appeared human to their eyes. The people
who walked in elite circles noticed me and gestured with a nod or smile as they walked past.
Those who were not familiar with my reputation walked past, completely naive to the danger I
could inflict.
As I walked, I spied a church and watched as people trickled in and out for nightly
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confession. And the thought crossed my mind, what if I was to enter into those Holy walls and
make confession? Could it hurt? No, I no longer felt connected to the Catholic faith but the nun I
once was still held a shred of respect for the denomination.
But, as I began crossing the street, I realized something. No measure of confession could
save me now. No Hail Mary’s. The fact was that I still believed in a God and I knew that the life
I lived, no matter how I strived for it to have a good purpose, was fueled by an evil need to feast
from the living. Perhaps, I would be pardoned because I never killed. But, I have killed and I
know the time will come when I will be forced to kill again. And with sadness hanging over me
like a shadow, I realized I was a monster – truly – a monster with a soul.
I made my way back to the house finding it warm and inviting. The light from Winston’s
window had gone out. He had left with it. Aleksandra slept peacefully behind her locked door.
Deciding to sleep in the house, feeling a need to be closer to Aleksandra, I took to my room.
I secured the large windows in my chamber; pulled shut the heavy tangerine curtains, and
secured them with large pins. I slipped into a long, flowing charcoal nightgown with billowed
sleeves and a ruffled neckline. The fabric was soft and sensual against my naked flesh. I turned
the locks on the door, all three of them. And then, seeing that the hour of dawn was nearly upon
me, I pulled back the plush bed covering and slipped into the bed. The fluffy down pillow cradle
my head gently, and as I closed my eyes, the entire world slipped away and I was lost in a
dreamful sleep.
The next evening came and with it the reveal of my intentions for Aleksandra. She was
moved beyond simple emotions when I told her. She cried in my arms for several minutes and
then could not form words for several more. I kept my true reasons from her. I told her she was
being given the opportunity now, not when she turned sixteen, and that she shan’t wait any
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longer. Winston merely sat in the corner of the room on a large golden seti, his hands folded
neatly in his lap, and his head slightly bowed.
“You leave in a week today,” I said as I held her in my arms.
“A week?” she asked as she pulled away. “Do you speak the truth?”
“Yes, a week,” I replied.
“Then I have much to do!” she remarked joyfully. She danced around the room like a
small child, her dress flying about her until she noticed Winston’s sad demeanor.
“What bothers you, Winston? Is it that I’m leaving for school?” she asked in the sweet
and innocent voice, which always made him treat her like a million dollars.
“Yes,” he answered after a long pause. “I will miss you terribly, Aleksandra. I find it both
saddening and joyous that you are growing up and now have the opportunity to achieve all of
your goals. You will make a lovely young lady when you return.” A single red tear rolled gently
down his cheek as he finished speaking.
She rushed to his side and wiped the tear from his cheek. He caught her hand and kissed
“I love you, Winston,” she whispered as she hugged him tightly. “And there is no need to
worry, I will be back.”
I stood away from them watching the display of affection between them. He loved her
with every drop of blood in his body, as did I. Then, as they held each other tightly and with not
an inch of space between their bodies, I realized that his love might be of a different nature than
my own. Was there a spark I saw? A kindred of spirits between them? Did he love her as a man
loves a woman and not as a man loves his daughter? And then, I remembered the perfume in his
room, the melancholy cloud hanging low around his head, and how he urged me to reconsider
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sending her away on such a short notice. How could I not have seen this coming? How many
nights had they spent together while I hunted alone?
I took a seat by the fire trying to conceal my bewilderment. I gingerly tossed a scrap of
wood into the burning mess and watched as the flames licked at it playfully consuming it. Then,
as I saw them begin to part from their affectionate hug, I saw Winston produce a package from
his inner breast pocket. It was a small lilac box fastened with a delicate ivory ribbon. It was no
bigger than the palm of my hand.
He handed her the present and lowered himself back into the chair. I turned to face them
directly, eager to know the contents of the box.
“What is it?” she asked politely.
“Open and see,” he smiled.
She opened the package taking liberty with the ribbon. Slowly she undid the tiny bow,
letting the ribbon drop to the floor. Then she opened the lid of the box and I, half expecting it to
sing some gay tune or something pop out on a coil, was left only wondering what the item could
be since the box produced no sound. She smiled when she saw her gift and then lifted it from the
box letting the box itself join the ribbon at her feet.
“It’s the perfume!” she exclaimed. “It’s the perfume I wanted! Oh, Winston, thank you!”
And again she moved to hug him and he accepted willingly.
“Perfume?” I asked as I moved to join them. “Put some on. I long to smell it.”
She withdrew from him and sprayed a light mist of the perfume onto her tender neck.
“Do you like it, mother?” she asked.
I recalled the smell. I knew it. I drew closer and smelled her neck taking in a big whiff of
the product. It was indeed the perfume I had smelled the night before in Winston’s chamber.
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“Um, yes,” I stammered to answer. “It’s smells divine.”
“Oh, Winston!” she exclaimed blissfully.
For the first time ever and perhaps it was so because I never had had the notion of him
harboring these feelings for her, I saw in his eyes a sparkle when he looked at her. The way he
looked at her, touched her, and loved her was overwhelming to me. I had to break up the party. I
had to be alone to sort all this out. But, then I realized she was to leave in less than a week and he
wasn’t going. I would have my time to discover the full extent of his feeling towards her. I had
all the time in the world.
“Aleksandra,” I said. “The hour is late, my child.”
“Yes, mother, I will go to sleep, but I can hardly think how I will fall to my slumber for
I’m far too excited about school!”
“Once you fall asleep you can dream about school and as you sleep, time will flash by
and soon it will be the day for your good-bye’s,” Winston said as he struggled to oppress his
feelings for her.
“Then I shall dream about school, and classes, and the rolling English country side!” she
remarked as she left the room. “Good night!”
After she had gone, I turned to Winston who had retreated back to his chair looking as if
he were lost in a daydream.
“I recognize the odor of the perfume,” I said to him calmly.
“I thought you would,” he remarked.
“She will be missed, Winston, but she won’t be gone forever.”
“I know,” he answered numbly.
With this he rose from the chair, laid upon my cheek a tender kiss, and took off for his
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room. This left me alone, staring into a dying fire, with only my thoughts to keep me company.
She had gone to sleep, dreaming of the days to come, safely tucked in her bed. The room was
most likely locked but I did not check. He was in his room, pacing, his feet thumping on the
floorboards above my head.
I sat in front of the fire until dawn was fast approaching. The flames died away leaving
only the ashy forms of the logs it had consumed. The air was still and calm and the house was
quiet. I went to my chamber and secured the door behind me. It took all of my strength to close
and fasten the drapes before I collapsed, exhausted, onto the bed.
In the end, the week had been a mere blur. I had taken her, as I had done with her sister
before, to the steps of the school. And, after reassuring the Head Master that, despite that fact
that she was a twin, that she was nothing like her sister and suffered from no incurable illnesses,
I was able to leave. She was afraid of the unknown but more than eager and ready to begin her
new journey. All that was left for me was to seek out Pavel, tell him of my decision, and then to
return home to Tver and face the sulking Winston and get to the bottom of his affections for
Chapter Ten
I took my time in England, roaming the countryside and exploring the London nightlife,
and stayed there for some time. I spent several evenings in Wiltshire, which is in the West
Country. As a child, I often visited the woodlands of Wiltshire with my Aunt Margaret. We used
to spend the days in the village surrounding Lacock Abbey and admire the wonderfully quaint
gardens. But when I arrived this time, I found that it had been turned into a private residence not
more than fourteen years before my visit.
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Still I enjoyed visiting the small villages spread throughout the West Country. The dense
forests were breathtaking. Savernake Forest was eerily calm in the dark of night leaving me only
to remember it’s spectacular fauna and flora as it appears in the daylight. Near the western edge
of Savernake Forest lives an old oak tree the locals named Big Belly Oak. It’s believed that the
Devil can be summoned by dancing naked around the tree. I’ve never tried this but I doubt it
would work.
Then, after spending nearly a month traveling amongst the peaceful trees, I embarked for
London. The city beckoned me as if I was a dog on a leash and someone was tugging violently at
the leash.
It was coming into winter as I entered the city and snow was already falling, collecting on
the cobblestone streets and on the shop signs. As I recall it now, and to better paint a picture,
liken it to Dickens’s Christmas Carol. The air was festive; the stars full and bright in the sky, and
the movement of the city just as fast paced at night as in the day.
I went first to the Tower of London, a fortress of imprisonment and elaborate display of
royal power. I spent the first evening of my visit lingering about the Tower Green where earlier
that day Lady Jane Grey had been convicted of High Treason and was sentence to beheading at
the Queen’s discretion. The crowds were alive with gossip of the trial and Lady Jane slept in her
quarters as a convicted woman.
Not two years prior had another of Henry VIII’s wives lost her life on the Green,
Catherine Howard in 1552 and, prior to that, Anne Boleyn in the summer of 1536. One-year
prior to Anne Boleyn’s death, Sir Thomas Moore faced the executioner after disagreeing over the
monarch’s wish to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. I should have spared history of
any more moronic behavior and killed the king, but I chose to remain an innocent bystander and
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leave history to itself.
From there, I spent a few nights roaming about Westminster Abbey. The abbey is a
superb example of Early English Gothic architecture with its pointed arches and ribbed vaulting.
I find architecture rather amusing and the Abbey didn’t disappoint.
I spent a considerable amount of time at the shrine of Edward the Confessor. In the year
1300, King Edward I had commanded the building of the Coronation Chair to exhibit the Stone
of Scone, or as it is known by the Celts, Lai Fail “the speaking stone.” It was on this stone that
Scotland’s Kings were once crowned. The stone is no longer there and has been rightly returned
to Scotland.
I then spent an evening combing through the books in one of England’s oldest college
libraries, Merton College in Oxford. Another night was spent exploring Christ Church, another
college in Oxford, which is not only a college, but also the diocese of Oxford. The Norman
pillars and the vaulting choir, which date from the 15th century, are both magnificent examples of
the historical architecture that abounds in England.
It was in the college library in Merton College that I saw a very handsome specimen of
young man. His hair was immaculately kept with the fashion of the day, tied back with a broad
black ribbon. He sported no facial hair and this only aided in giving his face a most youthful
I watched the young man as he studied by a single candle; it’s wax collecting at the top of
the candle, not yet dripping. He was studying law, not a subject I cared for really. There were
other young men among the lad, but he stood out for some reason. I wanted him. I wanted to
cradle his tender young flesh in my arms and sink my teeth into his perfectly muscular neck. I
wanted to know just what made him so special.
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I watched him for nearly and hour then followed him as he left for his room. He didn’t
see me nor sense my presence until I willed it so. I followed him until he stopped at what
appeared to be the College’s main door. I watched as he stepped outside and sat down, frustrated,
on the granite steps. He cradled his head in his hands and ran his fingers tensely through his
“Good Evening, Sir,” I said from behind, startling him. “You appear troubled. May I be
of some help?” He jumped on the step and rose immediately.
“Good Evening, Ma’am,” he said. He was still startled and unlikely to recover. “Um,
unless you have a good grasp of the law, then no, I’m sorry you can’t be of any help to me.”
“Then I am sorry, for I have a very weak grasp of English law,” I explained.
“From where did you come, Ma’am? I know you not to be a student here, of course, so
from where have you come?” he asked politely.
“I’ve come from Russia to visit an old friend,” I replied.
“Russia? I say, you could have fooled me, you don’t look Russian nor sound it!” he
exclaimed. He was an innocent youth with a touching sense of humor.
“Oh, I’m originally from England only now do I live in Russia.”
“What part, if you don’t mind me asking?” he asked, eager to hear my answer.
“I spent much of my formative years near the River Test at Romsey Abbey,” I answered.
“Ah, my sister was sent away to learn in the convents as well.”
“Most young girls are.” We both nodded respectably. “And you, young Sir, from where
do you hail?”
“Oh, South London,” he said as he shuffled his feet awkwardly.
“Ah, I see, and what is it that troubles you on such a lovely evening as this?” I asked.
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“I’m in love,” he answered defeated.
“In love? Well, how does that have to with the law?” I asked.
“Well,” he began, “everything! The object of my love is married and I must back down,
unable to have her.”
“Ah,” I smiled. “Will she take a lover?”
“A lover! Oh. I don’t know.” He was blushing; his face red and flushed.
“Yes, a lover,” I remarked. “You’ll have the best part of her, you know?”
He shook his head and began laughing nervously. He continued this for a few moments
and then, seeing as I was serious in my statement, calmed himself straight away. He asked me if
I had been serious and I stated that I had been.
“It’s just that I’ve never heard a Lady speak this way, Ma’am,” he sheepishly remarked.
“I mean, I never knew women did that sort of thing until they were old in years.”
“Go to her, write to her, tonight! Tell her you will be her lover and that she can marry to
secure her future,” I told him. “Perhaps, one day, her husband will fall from his horse and leave
her a widow.” I winked at him.
We said our farewells, him still in astonishment. I could no longer bring myself to feed
off him. I had forgotten one of the most important rules of hunting: never play with your food.
And for this, I was suffering and had to enter into a scummy pub and parade around drinking
from several drunkards. My head was woozy then, as it always was after drinking blood laced
with nasty alcohol, and I decided, rather on a whim, to head home. I missed Winston and had lost
track of time rediscovering my old country.
There was no one in the ally by the tavern, not a single soul. And it was there that I made
my ascent into the night sky, quickly and without looking back. I watched as the coastline of
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England disappeared below me. I felt like I was once again leaving home. Those were my
people, my heritage, my land, and I had entrusted into their care my most-precious Aleksandra.
Being there was like a dream and I could scarcely believe I was forcing myself to wake from.
I was going to Russia, yes, where I now called home. I would return to my house, my
belongings, my treasures, my lover, and my brother. Surely, in the months since I had been gone,
things had changed - small things rather insignificant really. And I too had changed. I was
refreshed, reconnected with my people, and filled with a deeper purpose. Although, I was still
unsure what this purpose would be.
It was near dawn when I reached my house. No lights were on and the fireplaces were
empty and cold. I went into Winston’s room and he wasn’t there. The maid was asleep in her
chamber, as was the other staff. So, finding no one to be stirring about and with the sun nearly
over the hills, I went to my bedchamber.
The room was locked, as I had left it, and upon entering I found a layer of dust coating
everything and the drapes drawn and clipped together. Promising myself that I would dust off the
furniture the next evening, I layed upon the bed and was asleep within seconds. The familiarity
of my pillow, the decadent bedding, the violet canopy trimmed in gold above my head, ah, I was
home. I was safe. I was loved. I was where I belonged.
My dreams, that evening, were the most pleasant I had experienced in months. I dreamt
of the moors of England, of running through them in my nightgown as Winston chased after me,
playfully. The sun on my back warming me as only it can. I could smell the scent of the flowers
that grew near our kitchen. I could feel the Spanish fabric that had covered my bed and the white
sheets that smelled of sunshine and grass.
I wish now that I could have slept for years, only to avoid the inevitable future. Oh, how I
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wished I had closed my eyes forever, never to open them, never to experience death, heartbreak,
and loss again. But then I would have never experienced the joys of falling in love, of completely
surrendering my heart to another person, and watching the ones around me grow and become
more than I thought they ever could be.
It’s sad, really, if you examine my existence under a fine microscope. Perhaps, this is my
microscope and you, dear readers, look through the pages as a scientist peers into the lens. And it
is in that microscopic slide that all my secrets, thoughts, and beliefs lay for your examination. It
would be nice to wake one night and hear the one word you use to sum up my life, what you
found and what you took with you from your look into the lens.
Alas, the hour of dawn is not more than six hours away. I must be hasty and continue my
tale or it will never be finished. Where was I? Oh, yes…
I awoke the next evening, refreshed and relaxed. I found the house quiet, empty, and
lonely. No one stirred and the house seemed to calm for good. I waited an hour or so and, since
nobody came home, I went to cleaning the dust from my chamber. It was not then two hours later
that the housekeeper came creeping up the stairs. Finding me home, unannounced, sent her into a
panic. She flung about my room, white as a sheet, her arms flying about her, and finally, her legs
going weak. She collapsed on my bed and awoke several hours later only to find me sitting
beside the fire wondering where Winston was.
“Dear woman, where has my brother gone to?” I inquired as I stared into the fire, my
hand folded in my lap, and my legs crossed.
“Ma’am,” she said as she bowed before me. “He did not say where he was going. May I
alert the staff to a full return of duties?”
“Yes, please do,” I answered.
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She threw another log onto the raging fire and then brushed her worn hands on her dirty
apron. Her hair was rustled from her collapse and it fell haplessly from her bun. The gray strands
were long coming past her shoulders. Her face still held sweat upon her brow as if she were with
“Mrs. Charlotte?” I inquired.
“Yes, Ma’am?”
“When did Master Winston leave?”
“Oh, Ma’am, it’s been months now. I’m not very well with numbers, I’m sorry.”
“When did he leave?” I asked.
“Oh, not more than two weeks after you and the little Ms. had left. Of this I am sure,” she
replied as she took a rag and began dusting off the mantel.
“You can do that tomorrow, Charlotte,” I said. “You look exhausted, be off to bed now.”
“Oh, thank you, Ma’am,” she replied with a tear forming in the corner of her eye. She
began to walk out towards her room. She did appear completely wasted and I was certain it
wasn’t entirely the fault of my surprise homecoming.
“Charlotte, before you retire for the evening will you answer something for me?” I asked
“Of course, Ma’am.”
“Why are you so exhausted? This house is covered in a thick layer of dust. If you have
not been cleaning it, what have you been doing in my absence?” I asked bluntly.
“Ma’am, I was relieved of duty until further notice by Master Winston. I have gained
temporary employment at a local bakery during the day. Master was still allowing me to stay my
nights here, in my bed,” she replied. Suddenly, she looked worried and continued with her
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speech. “I would have done the cleaning, Ma’am, in exchange for my room and board, but I’ve
been so tired and I’m not as young as I once was.”
“Do not fret, Charlotte. I was merely curious,” I replied trying to ease her countenance.
“Tomorrow morning, at first light, you will go straight away to the bakery and end your
obligations there. Is it understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am. Good night.” And with that she left closing the door behind her.
I was alone, but not for long. She had forgotten a letter Winston had left for me. It was
written on expensive paper and fastened with his seal. The seal was still intact. I opened the letter
and detected the subtle aroma of that perfume he had given to Aleksandra. It was a sweet scent,
like plums and sweet honey. Smelling it made me remember her and remembering her made me
miss her.
The letter was simple and offered no real explanation. He had gone away, he explained,
to escape the trouble he felt inside his heart. I could have guessed that much without reading the
letter. He continued to say he would not be back for some time and that I should not worry about
him. Upon reading the letter, I threw it onto the raging fire where it was immediately engulfed in
bright orange flames.
Almost a year went by until he returned. He never explained where he had been; only that
he had been traveling Europe. I found his lack of detail intriguing but felt it not my place to pry
in his private affairs. If that was what he had to do to escape the loneliness he felt when
Aleksandra was sent away, then I understood all too well.
During that year I had remained in contact with Aleksandra through letters, which arrived
weekly. She loved her studies, excelled in them more than I could have ever dreamt she would.
Her marks were the highest in the class and her attitude and generosity were things the Head
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Master admired greatly. School was indeed the best place for her and she seemed rather perfect
for the intellectual lifestyle of boarding school.
But before I get carried away, let me return now to the winter of 1554. The first snows
began early that year and the townspeople spoke of this meaning bad news was ahead. Rumors
began circulating that illness was striking the Calvary stationed near the border. People feared
the return of Pavel, they feared he would return in a casket.
Thankfully, they were wrong. Pavel returned two days before Christmas and I was there,
waiting in his room the moment I heard his heart beat in Tver. I remember waking that night and
hearing the distinctive beating of his heart. He was only miles from the city, just a short ride on
I went straight to his room dressed in a flowing golden gown. It had delicate pearl buttons
up the back and a long flowing train. The sleeves were long and gathered neatly at the wrist and
the neckline conservative for the day and age.
I sat near the balcony on a red velvet seti. No one in the palace knew I was there. I waited
in anticipation as I heard his horse enter the stable. I heard him enter the palace, and later
descend the stairway to his chamber. When he opened the door I could scarcely sit still. His eyes
fell upon me and immediately the tears began to fall from his eyes. I ran to him and we held each
other for the longest time; neither of us saying a word just relishing in the feeling of being in
each other’s arms.
That night we held each other until dawn was near. I took him with me that night and he
stayed with me in my chamber. In our sleep we held each other and his heart beating comforted
me gently.
I told him about Aleksandra and he felt proud of her success. When he learned of
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Anastasia’s promiscuous behavior, she was sent away to a nunnery and I was commanded to let
her remain there indefinitely.
Life was sweet, and gentle, and loving, but it was bittersweet really. In the last days of
February my happiness ended; my world crashed in around me. I have never fully recovered.
Pavel had contracted a disease after being sent to resecure the Russian border and was gravely ill
within weeks of his return. He fought death until nightfall so he could die in my arms, peacefully
and knowing he had been loved. And it was in my arms that he gently surrendered his life. He
was not more than twenty pounds lighter in weight, his cheek deeply sunken and grayish, and his
hair the same ashen color and falling out strand by strand. Yet, his heart and his soul were still
brave and full of life, even as he slipped into oblivion, they called to me lovingly.
Why couldn’t I have saved him, turned him into a vampire? I couldn’t have. Nor could I
end his life through my kiss. He went too quickly and I kept him in a painless stupor with my
powers. He slipped away as if he had been dreaming and never woke. Do I regret not turning
him? Yes, every day. Yet, I’m still not sure I could have ever done it. Because of that his final
words will always be with me, haunting me, through the years. “You’ll never be without me,” he
had said breathlessly as I kissed his brow and wiped the sweat away with my cheek. “I’ll always
be here.” With that he had touched my breast, under which laid my heart. Then he closed his
eyes, took in one last raspy breath, and fell limp in my arms. I have never cried and cursed
myself as much as I did that night. I’ve never forgiven myself for letting him go and surrendering
him to God.
Each night after that I spent alone near my fire with a blank stare of disbelief gracing my
cold face. I hated the coldness of the Russian winter now. Pavel’s embrace was no longer there
to warm me, his kiss no longer there to feel upon my cheek. I could no longer hear his heart beat
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in the city. The wind would howl and the snows would come, and I would remain unmovable in
my chair. Some nights, out of shear depression, I would remain in my bed only rising to open the
drapes to let the moonlight in.
Oh, the cursed moonlight! He was not a friend to me during those first months alone. He
was a constant reminder of my solitude, my despair, and my eternal frustration with this disease
of Vampirism. He was my enemy and I hated him. I hated the shadow he casted on the lake
outside my chamber window. I hated how his light danced off the stones and pebbles in my
garden. The darkness of night, it haunted me.
So, a month had passed since Pavel had been entombed in his family’s crypt. Each night
felt like a thousand nights. I had lost a part of myself when he closed his eyes for the last time. I
began to visit his tomb after the first month of shock wore away. I would refresh the flowers,
wipe the dust from his plaque, and talk to him as if he were sitting there beside me. Never had a
mortal’s death affected me this way. Then again, never had I pledged all of myself to a mortal
before. Never had I been captivated by the smile of another mortal. Never had I been so lost in
the eyes of a mortal. Never had I tried so earnestly to tell myself that he had gone yet wanted
him, so urgently, to still be there. Never had I felt so utterly and desperately alone.
It was coming into the fall of the next year when Winston returned home. I was still
adorned in mourning clothes and still kept post either at the fire or in the garden on warm nights.
The staff, all except Charlotte, had been relieved of duty. She kept me company at night,
between her cleaning duties, and for that I was deeply thankful. I had arranged for our estate to
be put up for sale. I was prepared to leave within three night of his arrival, whether he returned to
me or not. But, fortunately, he did return to me in time.
I was wrapped in a cream colored shawl and was sitting in front of the fire. The flames
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were dying away, the air was cold and stale, and the wind howled outside beating on the
windows. Then, near midnight, my brother returned home. The turning of the doorknob to the
study, in which I sat, startled me at first. But when I saw his face peer from behind it, I couldn’t
have been relieved to see someone in my entire life. I leapt from my chair, let the shawl fall from
my shoulders, and jumped into his arms.
As he held me, the door behind him came ajar and Charlotte yelled “hello” from the
kitchen. I began to cry. My crimson tears stained his white lapel yet, he continued to hold me.
The tighter he held me, the harder I cried. I began to shake, my heart felt as if it were breaking,
and I continued to cry on his shoulder and he allowed it like a good older brother should.
Finally, once I could hardly cry another tear, I returned to my chair. He followed me and
sat beside me in what was always his chair. He poked at the flames and threw on another log.
The fire began to rage again and I felt the warmth immediately.
“Bree,” he began. “You look as if someone has died.”
He was concerned, truly concerned. The tears began to well up in my eyes and forced
them back.
“Someone has died, Winston,” I answered. My lips quivered and my voice was unsteady.
“Oh my! Who?” he asked, shocked and bewildered.
“Winston,” I said as the tears began to fill my eyes. “It’s Pavel. He’s gone…forever.” I
was, once again, overcome with emotion.
“Pavel? When did this happen?” he asked. Even he was astonished by the answer to his
“A year ago.”
“A year! And you are still in mourning?”
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“You can’t begin to understand how I felt for him, Winston. I loved him more than
anything or anyone I have ever loved. He was why I woke each night. He was what kept me
from going mad.” I wiped the tears from my bloodstained cheeks. “He was my all, my other self,
my everything.”
“Oh, Bree,” he said clasping my hands in his as he looked into my eyes. “I do know how
you feel. But it will get better. Just give it some time.”
“I’ve given it a year, Winston, a year!” I released his grasp on my hands and leapt from
my chair, and then leaned on the mantel. “Everything reminds me of him. Everything! Even the
air smells like him.”
“Perhaps, you need to get away for awhile, take a holiday from Tver?”
“I am going away, forever. I’m never returning to Russia,” I replied.
“Where will we be going?” he asked politely.
“Winston, I think it’s time we return to our people.”
“Our people? Do you mean England?” he asked.
“Yes, England. I hope you understand, brother, I can no longer stay here. It just hurts me
too much.”
“Of course!” He came to my side and held me again. “Of course! We shall go then….”
He released his brief embrace and then, hesitatingly, walked across the room, folded his arms,
and starred out the window. “I have a place where we can live. It’s in the country, the nearest
village miles away, no will bother us there.”
“You have a place? Already?” I asked curiously.
“Yes, I do,” he said growing pensive.
“I never knew you kept a home in England. When did you aquire it?”
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“Oh, not too long ago,” he answered. “I felt a sudden urge to return to my boyish roots
and all that nonescense. I’m sure you can relate.”
“Of course,” I replied. Somehow, I felt he was hiding something more in his desire to
aquire property in England but now wasn’t the time to probe the subject. “Alright, then it’s
settled.” I walked to him and kissed his cheek gently. “We shall leave when you are ready,
“Give me two nights. Then we will go. Just promise me one thing?”
“Of course,” I answered.
“No more mourning clothes. Be merry as you once were and remember him as a great
love. That’s what he would’ve wanted, sister. Not this dreary vieled mistress hidden from the
night like a woman scorned.” I shut my eyes tightly, fighting back a river of tears.
“It’s just that I miss him so much. I don’t think I’ll ever find it again, you know?”
“Find what?” he asked.
“Unmistakable, unforgivable, passionately, beholding love.”
“If you’re meant to have that in your life, then you will have it,” he assured me.
I never pursued the issue about his England property. He was entitled to his secrets and I
to mine. We left for England three nights later. I remember visiting Pavel’s tomb the night before
we left and saying my farewells in the snow-drizzled night. Somehow, I had attained a small
measure of closure from that simple action. I knew in time that I would heal from the loss. Like
Pavel had said, he would still live in my heart and I could feel him there. I can still feel him
there, actually.
Saying farewell to Russia was a heart-wrenching experience. I had spent thirty years
among its people and in its cities. I had adopted their culture, their language, their simple way of
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life. I had loved one of their princes. I had adopted into my household, and into my heart, two of
its children. It gave me a plethora of love and for that, I owed it more than I could ever give. But,
above all, it gave me Pavel and his love. For that, and that alone, I will always be grateful.
Before leaving I said my farewells to Charlotte who had been my faithful housekeeper for
over ten years. Through illness and difficult times, she trudged on, serving me even in her
weakest moments. And oh, how she adored Aleksandra. She treated her as a beloved grandchild
and loved her with all the depth of a grandmother’s love. For her faithful service and steady
companionship, I gave her a rather ample sum of money – equaling approximately ten years pay.
She nearly fainted at the site of so much money. From what I remember, she went on to lead a
very rich, long, and very happy life.
And with that, it was time for us to depart and so we did. I’ve never been back to Russia.
No, not in all these years have I been possessed to step foot on Russian soil. The problems the
country has faced, poverty, Communism, the decrease in public health, crime, and drug abuse.
Every time I read a newspaper coming out of Russia it greatly saddened me. Long gone was the
Russia I loved. Long gone was the Russia in which I once resided. And long, long gone was the
Russian I once loved with every fiber in my preternatural being.
There was nothing left for me in that old country. I could find nothing pleasant or good. It
was as if the Golden Age of Russia, for me at least, had died with Pavel. So, as I was saying, we
moved to merry old England.
The hour has grown late, severely late. Morning will be upon me rather shortly. Let us
continue then, me in my telling of my story and you in reading it…
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Chapter Eleven
Life was beyond belief living back in England. Winston had taken ownership of a large
country estate just outside of Winchester, the ancient capital of England. It was an elegant house,
decorated in the most modern style, and sporting every known comforts of the time. The house
itself offered two parlors, one for morning and one for evening, a modest ballroom for social
gatherings – of which there were plenty, a dining hall, three separate libraries, and six spacious
and elaborately decorated bedrooms.
And the grounds were the loveliest I had seen is years. There was a lake, not more than a
two-minute walk, westward from the house. There seemed to be trees everywhere and a dense
forest cropping in the southern end of the property. The yellow and white pebbled lane leading to
the main entrance stretched for over a mile and was lined with Nerium Oleander bushes, such an
odd choice for a beautiful manner house as this. Winston wasn’t aware of the Nerium Oleander’s
poisonous qualities and had them removed straight away and replaced with flowering lilac
bushes. Walking down the path on a warm night was intoxicating to the senses.
The estate was magnificent and we enjoyed many, many years there. It was like living in
a dream for the next ten years. We held balls, sometimes several in a month’s time, and became
infamous for treating our staff like human beings and not servants. They were the highest paid
workers in the county, were allowed plenty of time off, and were encouraged to maintain contact
with their friends and family. Whenever we had an opening for new staff, the competition was
fierce with maids and footmen coming from miles away to apply.
Aleksandra came home on all holidays and during the summer months. She was maturing
into a gorgeous young lady. Her knowledge of languages was expanding rapidly as was her love
for literature. I was so proud of her, and still am. She was proving to be a fine lady of
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immaculate convictions and held a wealth of ideas to better mankind. I knew she the capability
to go far in life.
Until Aleksandra came home for good, Winston would make little “trips” by himself on
occasion. He never fooled me for I knew he was going to be with Aleksandra. I let on as if I had
no knowledge of their romance, even to the extent of acting surprised when they, as the saying
goes, “let the cat out of the bag.”
In 1560, four years before Aleksandra finished her schooling; Anastasia had been married
off to her physician. He was a nice enough man and cared for her generously. His plump frame
and clubby fingers and toes weren’t terribly attractive, yet Anastasia, in all her craziness, must
have seen something worthy in him. Although I never saw what he could possibly see in her, he
loved her and wished nothing more than to care for her and her illness. Her moods were still
highly unpredictable at times and on some level even her husband feared her.
I, along with the nuns, attended her wedding, which was held in the monastery’s
minuscule chapel. There was no pomp, no circumstance, and no honeymoon. The couple settled
in what is now, and was possibly then for I can not recall, Grayshott in Hampshire. She seemed
content there. I say content because she was never really what you could call happy; her moods
were either content or melancholy and never anywhere in between.
The couple had no children and traveled to visit us at our estate often and only when
Anastasia’s health allowed. Now that I’m reflecting on this, Anastasia’s last years were
wonderful. After her marriage, Anastasia’s tendencies to become frightened, anxious, and
confused lessened considerably. On the other hand, she would become extremely detached from
the world and would sometimes stay awake for days on end. But her violent tendencies only
came forth when around her sister, the ‘voices’ only spoke to her when she was around her sister,
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and her aggression was more than apparent when around Aleksandra.
Aleksandra, who came to reside with Winston and I after finishing her education, always
acted queerly towards her sister. Aleksandra had many pet peeves and weakness was one of
them. She saw great weakness in Anastasia and although she couldn’t blame her sister for the
character flaw, she always found it annoying and exhausting being in her presence. Thus, her
time in Anastasia’s company was always limited. She never went out of her way to spend more
time with her sister than was socially expected of her.
Aleksandra was also blunt, brutally honest, and had an innate ability to see through lies.
From the way a person’s eye moved to where their hands were placed when speaking with her,
she could tell if they were lying, speaking the truth, or hiding more to their story than what they
were divulging. Even the servants knew not to lie to Ms. Aleksandra lest they be caught in their
lies and dismissed without pay or reference. And it was common knowledge that a servant
dismissed on unfriendly turns from my household had no chance of finding gainful employment
in any other house within a three hours carriage ride. She was tough and ruled her wing with an
iron will, but was respected and admired at the same time for she was also renowned for her
generosity to those who were faithful and obedient.
I remember when she completed her schooling, she was not one and twenty years at the
time, Winston purchased a greyhound puppy and presented it to her upon her arrival. She
cherished the gift and named him Geoffrey. This gift began her love for greyhounds, which she
breeds to this very day. Some of her greyhounds have even won world championships in the
most elite dog competitions.
It wasn’t until she came to reside with us that I noticed how deeply Winston still felt for
her. He would do anything to please her. I could see his love for her increasing daily and her
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admiration for him increasing as well. In her own way, she loved him. Aleksandra was never
much on romance. She had numerous suitors, some extremely wealthy and handsome, yet she
never accepted their attentions. She never wanted to feel tied down and beholden to any man.
The whole marriage and children scenario just wasn’t for her. She wanted to travel, explore,
learn, and not to merely sit at home being a kept woman her entire life.
On her twenty-first birthday she asked the one thing I never thought she would ask of me,
the one thing I had hoped and prayed she would never ask of me - that I make her into a vampire.
She had intellectually considered the pros and cons and wanted more than anything to be made
into a child of the night. Of course, I refused to turn her. I explained to her that one day she
might want a husband and children but to this she vowed she never would. She even went so far
as to claim that, “No mortal man will ever capture my heart!” And indeed, no mortal man ever
had a chance for her affections.
The night after her birthday we had a very intriguing conversation. After waking, I found
her in the gallery admiring some of the artwork Winston had given her through the years. She
was elegantly dressed in a shimmering white gown that he had bought her for her birthday. She
was gorgeous, simply breathtaking.
I had watched her for a while from the doorway as she carefully studied each painting
before moving onto the next. Her hair was loose and free and flowed down her back in beautiful
ringlets. Her face was powdered lightly, her lips were a tender rose color, and her eyes were
sparkling, vibrantly framed in golden eye shadow.
“Aleksandra,” I said when I decided to enter into the room fully.
“Mother!” she said as she swung around to face me. “You nearly frightened me into a
panic. I didn’t hear you come in.”
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“Calm your rapid heart beat, I don’t wish for you to faint.”
“Come and sit with me?” She motioned towards a jade colored seti against the back wall
of the gallery.
I followed as she walked across the gallery and planted herself demurely onto the seti.
“My ball was splendid, Mother. Thank you for throwing it,” she said, a grand smile
stretching across her face. “I had the best of time!”
“Aleksandra, I think we need to talk about last night,” I began but was cut off before I
could finish the sentence.
“Yes, we do,” she answered abruptly. Her smile had faded and she now looked pensive
and worried.
“What did you mean by saying that no mortal man could capture your heart?” I asked.
Yes, it had been blunt, but Aleksandra appreciated bluntness. She didn’t fear honesty like most
people do.
“I simply meant that indeed no mortal man would ever gain my affection,” she answered.
She turned away from me causing the moonlight to reflect on her innocent profile. She looked
ever so graceful in the subtle moonlight and I knew she was hiding something from me.
“Why do you say ‘mortal’?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question, Mother.” She stood and began to leave.
“Aleksandra, stop! Why can’t you answer me?” I had risen to her side and took a hold of
her arm stopping her from leaving.
“It would anger you, Mother,” she said. Her eyes glared at me.
“No, you won’t anger me,” I said as I released her arm, “You could never anger me by
divulging the truth, you know that. Aleksandra, I could easily read your thoughts but… I would
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rather hear the truth spoken from your lips. Please, give it to me freely.”
She was still apprehensive as she sat back down on the seti. She folded her hands in her
lap and let forth a heavy sigh before beginning.
“The truth,” she said as she sighed again. “Well, I know of your powers and I know you
can see the relationship between Winston and I, so I will not deny that fact. But let me explain
why it is that I could never love a mortal man.” She took a moment and cleared her throat,
looking out the window reflectively. “Mother, I truly love Winston. His light is the only one I see
in a sometimes darkened and dreary world. You, above all, know that I am not a romantic. I do
not ‘fall in love.’ These feelings for Winston are not a passing fancy. My affections for him have
been growing over the years. His intellect impresses me. His maturity astonishes me. In him, I
find where I belong. He is my equal and for this he has earned my love and my trust.”
I did not act surprised by this confession for I always knew something brewed between
them. Her feelings were too secure in their foundations to be shaken by any argument I could
possibly make. But nevertheless, I tried anyway.
“And you concealed this relationship from me, why?” I asked.
“We felt you wouldn’t understand.”
“I wouldn’t understand? What makes you think that?” I asked.
“When Winston told me how you had reacted to my fathers death, I knew you would
never allow him to make me into a vampire,” she said. “I thought it would be best to conceal our
relationship from you. I prayed you wouldn’t search my mind and discover my feelings for him.”
I must confess her answer had surprised me. Was she implying that Winston intended on
making her into a vampire? Of course I could never allow this to happen. She had been smart in
concealing this from me, very smart indeed.
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“You tell me by this confession that you wish to be made undead?” I asked bluntly.
“You make it sound so… so damned. It’s an opportunity, Mother.”
“An opportunity for what - to walk this Earth in an eternal nightmare? Just what, I pray,
is the opportunity you think it provides?” I asked. “It is a damned existence, Aleksandra!”
“Mother, if I could live endlessly without dying or growing older, I could travel to every
city this Earth builds and learn every language, every culture,” she grew with excitement as she
spoke. She began walking about the room, her arms gesturing with each syllable, and her eyes in
a constant dream-like glaze. “I see this world as an endless library of knowledge. So many books
to be read Mother, so many and I’ve only started. Just imagine what I could accomplish if I were
given eternity to accomplish it! ”
“You haven’t exhausted yourself with book learning yet? Most ladies your age are
settling to marry,” I said staring at her as she walked around the room as if in a dream.
“Marry? I never wish to marry. No man will ever own me! I am my own person and not
some trivial property piece,” she stammered, vehemently.
“Then what will become of you? Do you not want children, an estate of your own? A
man who will love you?” I asked. My questions were heartfelt and sincere. I only wanted the
best for her, as always. I only wished for her to be happy and not regret any choices like I do
“Mother, I do not want children. I don’t. My offspring could be affected by Anastasia’s
illness and I can’t afford the heartache that would bring,” she answered. She grew pensive and
took her seat next to me on the seti. “And I’ve already found the man I love. My equal is
Winston. I tried to find another, a mortal, and non have met my expectations.”
“So, then you think you will be with Winston for eternity if you are made into a vampire?
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Do you really think it’s that simple?” I asked.
“For me, perhaps, yes.”
“I’ve told you of Aksel, have I not? Of my love for him and how it eventually ended?”
“Yes, you have,” she responded looking deep into my eyes now. “But, Mother, I don’t
mean any ill intent, but some people aren’t the commitment type. Maybe, for him, eternity was
too long to be with one person.”
“And you think that you and Winston’s love is of the constitution that will endure the
endless centuries, the sunless nights, the war, the famine, the greed?”
“Yes, I do,” she said.
“Pray tell, why? What makes your love so special?” I asked.
She sat for awhile and stared out the window behind us. Her eyes, still in a dream-like
state, glistened like raindrops in the soft moonlight. The candelabra behind her head casted a
warming glow about her making her resemble an angel come down from Heaven. In all her
beauty and innocence, I found it difficult not to fulfill her request right then and there. But, as I
pondered on it, I just couldn’t justify it. She was too young.
“Our love,” she began, her voice mousy and her gaze steady on the blowing leaves
outside. “Transcends everything.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s above everything, Mother. I’ve found other men tempting. I’ve even used a few, but
my love for Winston always came before them. We understand each other like no one else can. I
know what he’s thinking and I know how he works. Oh, I’m finding the words to describe this
difficult,” she replied. “Our relationship doesn’t hang on mere feelings, it hangs on a deeper
understanding of each other.”
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To be honest now, as I sit here at my desk writing this account of my life, that was the
one thing I was searching for; someone with whom I had a deep understanding. Not a soul mate.
A Soul Mate merely implies someone you’re compatible with, not necessarily someone who
understands you and loves you for understanding him or her in return. Not someone who holds
you in rapture begging for the next kiss, the next sensational touch. Not someone who just listens
and gives you free therapy. No, someone who understands you truly understands you. That was
what I had been endlessly searching for.
I was then faced with the sheer possibility that their love for each other could be the ‘real’
thing; that there was a small chance that they could last forever. I sat there, in the moonlight, the
dull candlelight caressing my shoulders, and I thought about this girl sitting beside me. She was
intelligent, mature, decent, and responsible. She had become more than I thought she ever would
become and would make a worthy companion for my brother. Yet, something festered in the
back of my mind and I couldn’t ease the anxiety over taking my mind. Why did the prospect of
turning her into a vampire, allowing her to be with Winston openly and for eternity, why did this
all feel like I was sacrificing her to him as if she were an offering of sorts?
I resigned myself to joining her gaze out the window. The leaves were scattered now all
over the South Lawn and there appeared to be a light mist forming on the hills. Dawn was near.
“Aleksandra,” I said after a long measure of silence. “We will continue this tomorrow
evening. Good night, my darling daughter.” Before she could object or make any further pleas, I
was in my room.
The bed was lush and inviting, the bedding soft and comfortable. The drapes were
already drawn and secured tightly. The air had a delicate aroma of honey and vanilla floating
about and like a magical essence, it intoxicated me into a peaceful slumber.
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My sleep that day, and for the weeks to follow, were restless. My dreams were filled with
horrific images of Aleksandra as a bloodthirsty hound roaming the countryside villainously
slaying innocent lives. I saw her lying over the bodies of her unfortunate victims, her teeth
dripping with blood, her eyes burning with an evil intensity. The mere thought of her becoming a
vampire horrified me as nothing else could.
But eventually, the idea grew on me and on the night of her twenty second birthday, after
seeing the unbreakable bond between her and Winston, and knowing above all else that she
wouldn’t become a bloodthirsty hound, I gave her what she wanted. It was a private occasion;
she didn’t even tell Winston until it was over.
The transition itself went smoothly. The images I saw in her mind were complicated and
pure. Her love for her sister along with the hate she felt for her. The love and admiration for
Winston flashed by in a brightly colored hue. Then, near the end, as her heart fought to squeeze
forth those last tiny droplets, the images of her father came flooding through. There were flashes
of him holding her, singing to her, showing her how to shoot a bow. They were all happy
memories of a life that seemed to have been lived ages ago. The last image I saw before I pulled
away was of Pavel looking at me, a smile on his face.
She had been lying at my feet as I saw that last image. It stopped me for a second and I
nearly lost her. But in the end, her raspy breath and the glare from her glistening almond eyes
brought me back to the task at hand. When it was all over, she was immortal and strong with my
blood coursing through her system, I looked at her. Her beauty had intensified, her features
sharper, her hair shinier, longer, and fuller. I noticed the difference in her within minutes, mere
minutes. Truly, I had thought, she had been destined for this. It suited her, indeed.
Winston was away at the time. He owned several properties in Northern London and the
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selling of one required his signature on some documents. He was gone, in total, three nights.
During this time, I taught Aleksandra to hunt, to live off of the little drink, and to have
mercy on her victim when she was forced to take a life. From the moment of her creation she
could read minds with great accuracy. At first, she was unable to take to the air but eventually,
and with much practice, she mastered that skill as well.
Those three nights alone with her were wonderful to have. This was a New World for
her; a new beginning filled with much joy and equal sorrow. But, it was nice having her to
myself for that wouldn’t happen again too often, as the future unfolded.
The nights flew by quicker than I would have liked though, and Winston finally returned
to find his mortal love on equal footing.
The evening he arrived, we were sitting beside the fire discussing politics when suddenly
Aleksandra sat straight up in her chair and began listening towards the door. I could hear
footsteps, delicate footsteps, but nothing unusual.
“Do you hear him, mother?” She was alert and her voice reflected her surprised
“I hear someone approaching, yes, but let the butler tend to the door,” I said without
giving it a seconds thought.
“No, it’s Winston!” she gasped and flew from the chair in a rushed state. “Go to him,
hurry. Intercept him! How is it that I can hear his thoughts?” She looked terrified.
“Hush, your thoughts are only hidden from the vampire who made you. Guard your
thoughts so he doesn’t find out what’s become of you before we tell him!” I said as I rushed for
the door dismissing the butler with wave as I passed through the hallway.
“It’s too late! He knows something has happened!” she said anxiously. “He can’t hear my
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heartbeat. He… he thinks I’m dead!” She fell into her chair, tears welling into her eyes and she
began to shake nervously. She wiped them away only to find they were made of blood. She
rushed to remove their stain on her cheek.
Reaching the door, I locked it at the knob and at the latch above my head. He banged on
it urgently.
“Bree? Are you in there? What’s happened to Aleksandra?” he was screaming. He was in
a panic. He continued knocking at the door, violently. The butler reappeared in the hall, halfasleep as if woken from a pleasant dream. I dismissed him at once and he left with no complaint.
I rushed Aleksandra out of the room and whispered for to go sit in the garden. She went
reluctantly and out of fear.
“Step away from the door, Winston, and I’ll let you enter,” I yelled.
After I heard his hand drop to his side, I unlatched the iron latch and slid the brass key
into the lock. He entered, pushing the door open in a panic.
He looked about the room but couldn’t see her. Then, when he looked at me, I could tell
he feared the worst. He fell into Aleksandra’s chair and began to weep. His body trembled. He
seemed a mere shell of man. I had never seen him like this and it frightened me.
“Winston,” I said softly as I sat down next to him and laid my hand on his quivering
knee. “Brother,” I began, but before I couldn’t continue, he interrupted me.
“When did it happen? How did she die?” He was shaking violently.
“She’s not dead,” I said as I stared at him.
“I can no longer hear her heart beat,” he said. His eyes were closed.
“Listen harder, my brother, concentrate and listen for her thoughts,” I said.
He listened for a few minutes and finally, some hope had returned to his grim and ashen
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“She’s in the garden, thinking about the roses,” he said smiling and then, his smile began
to fade. “She’s thinking how lovely they always looked in the sunlight and how dark the newness
of the moonlight makes them… shimmer like diamonds.”
“Why don’t you go to her? She waits for you, for your love,” I said moving to open the
door for him.
“And she is a vampire then, immortal like we are?” he asked.
“Yes, for three nights now,” I answered. He greeted me at the door and gave me a firm
hug and a soft kiss on my cheek.
“Thank you,” he whispered into my ear and went, henceforth, to the garden to be with his
new bride.
The silence was deafening. I could no longer hear her comforting heartbeat or her
thoughts. I never really listened, just occasionally, to know she was there and safe. But now I no
longer had that comfort. I heard the shuffling of their feet outside, the subtle blowing of the wind
through the trees, but nothing compared to the softness of her heartbeat.
The couple, after spending the night in each other arms on the back lawn, retired to his
room. The next evening, Anastasia had all her belongings moved into his apartment. The two
have yet to separate. They travel constantly and are rarely home. But it’s of no consequence to
me. She is content in her match, and so is he and they love each other as deeply as they did when
she was turned. She had spoken the truth that day when she had asked me to turn her. She had
found her true match. I never thought I would ever find a love like theirs. The intensity of it, the
affection, the connection; it astonished me. Their relationship has been around for over 400 years
and I seriously think it will last 400 more.
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Chapter Twelve
The dew is already forming on the plants outside my window. The lilac is moist and so is
the heather. Their smell is flowing into the room now with the breeze. It may just be a tiny
rooftop garden, no where near the fancy gardens I once lived among, but it’s still refreshing and
comforting. With morning creeping up on me so quickly, I must continue the story, I must. It
needs to be told.
Three years passed by before anything eventful happened in our lives. During this time,
Winston and Aleksandra were talking of journeying to the New World. They wanted me to
journey with them but, at the time, I had no urge to travel.
So, they began making preparations for their stay in the Colonies and planned on being
gone for a year, at most. During their leave, I planned on traveling Europe and generally stay
close to home. But our plans were halted when unforeseen events occurred, events that would
change things forever and make one of us into something they always feared they could become.
It’s the demons that lurk inside of ourselves that we need to fear, not the demons lurking
It was on a balmy evening in July, as the rain fell outside and the sky was gray as ash
with a heavy hanging fog that a letter arrived by urgent post. Upon receiving the letter from the
maid, I noticed that its outer envelope was addressed to Aleksandra. I sent it to her straight away
and only moments later a grief stricken Winston entered my parlor asking if I had not read the
letter before sending it up. I had explained that the seal had not been disturbed therefore I
couldn’t have possibly read the letters’ contents. He then urged me to follow him, and I went
without argument, to their chamber.
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Upon entering the room, I found Aleksandra sitting at her cherry oak writing desk, a tearstained handkerchief clutched in her ivory fingers and her eyes staring at the messy penmanship
beneath her. She appeared distraught and exhausted – a look I knew all too well.
“What am I to do?” she asked as I entered the room.
“About what, Aleksandra?” I asked as I took a seat on the velvet-blue seti next to the
writing desk. “Who is that post from?”
“It’s from my brother-in-law,” she answered. She flung the letter into my lap. “Read it for
I straightened the wrinkled parchment in my lap and focused my attention on it. The
writing was indeed sloppy, evidence that the letter had been hastily written. The ink was still
fresh in some spots; the heavy spots such as the crossed T’s and dotted I’s.
The contents of the letter were simple:
Dear Sister-in-Law,
I beg you to come to Pembrook straight away. Your sister is plagued now, almost without
reprieve, with violent fits. She no longer eats or takes drink and cannot go much longer in this
fashion. She has imprisoned herself in her chamber and will not allow admittance to none. We
had not heard a single sound from her room all day, and after fearing the worst and making
moves to enter her room by force, she spoke up and requested your presence. Please, come
without delay.
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The letter had not been signed, but we knew it spoke the truth. Winston was sitting on the
edge of their bed clutching a tangerine pillow. Orange was Aleksandra’s favorite color and the
room was decorated it in heavily. The bedding was a soft apricot highlighted with bright
tangerine pillows, the walls were a cream color with a peach border near the crown molding, and
the hardwoods were covered with various rugs sporting coral and reddish-orange designs.
Occasionally you saw a hint of Winston in the room, but not often. His style dominated the rest
of their apartment, which was decorated in rich browns and burnt reds, and he seemed perfectly
content in letting her have the bedroom to decorate as she so pleased.
“Well,” I asked finally. “Are you going to her?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied through her sniffling.
“You should go, she may be dying, Aleksandra,” Winston chimed in.
She rose from the desk and moved to the window. She pulled back the titian drapes and
stared out into the blackness of night.
“I never hated her, you know,” she said, more as a statement than a question because she
continued on before we could attempt a remark. “I felt sorry for her. She suffers endlessly with
her illness. But she does have a dark side and I don’t know if it’s the illness that created it or… if
it’s something left over.”
“Left over from what?” I dared to ask.
“From our birth mother,” she replied bluntly.
With this, Winston flung the pillow over his shoulder and rose from the bed. His shoes
made an odd tapping sound on the wood floor as he moved to her side. He took a hold of her
shoulders and began kissing her cheek.
“She’s a troubled woman, Aleksandra. Please, have some pity on her,” he requested.
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“That’s just it,” she said as she turned towards him. “I do have pity on her and I don’t
want to.” She laid her head on his shoulder; the tears were now streaming heavily down her
newly powdered cheeks. “I detest the evil in her because I know if she didn’t have that illness
she could have been a great person.”
“Then you must go to her now, my Aleksandra,” I said as I moved closer to her placing
my hand gently on the back of her head. “Before she dies. Before it’s too late.”
With that, Aleksandra pulled away from Winston, wiped from her cheek the blood tears
that stained them, and threw about her shoulders a golden shawl. She stepped out onto their
balcony and was gone within seconds. We heard the wind pick up slightly as she ascended and
nothing more.
The hours ticked by slowly, one hour turned into two and then three and still she had not
returned. The wind had died outside and all became calm. The leaves were no longer stirring
about the yard. No one in the house remained awake except for Winston and I.
“We should have gone with her incase Anastasia passes on,” he said, manning the
window for evidence of her return.
“Anastasia wanted Aleksandra and no one else,” I answered as I stared into the fire trying
to forget the minutes that inched by.
“Do you think she’s dead yet?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered as I rose to his side. “I think she’s gone from this world, not too long
ago, but it has happened.”
“How can you know for sure?” he asked.
“It’s just a feeling,” I answered.
We continued our constant peeping out the window, listening for her descent, until the
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sun was only an hour from rising. I was retiring to my apartment as I heard footsteps landing on
the flagstone. Winston had also heard them and he rushed towards the main door. I ran down the
staircase I had been ascending and went with him. Neither of us had been prepared for what we
found behind that door.
As Winston opened the heavy doors a horrific image began to appear. In the pale
moonlight, with the fog whispering around her, stood Aleksandra. There was blood on her face,
on her clothing, and in her tousled hair. Winston gasped and lunged himself toward her but I
pulled on his jacket to make him stop.
“Aleksandra, what happened?” I asked, startled.
“She’s dead,” she answered; her stare was vacant and haunting. She just stood there
“Dead?” asked Winston. “Why do you have blood on you?”
Her gaze became unfixed and she slowly moved her head from side to side looking at
each of us. Her glare was hauntingly eerie.
“Because I killed her,” she replied her voice dry and void of feeling. “I killed her.”
She then moved, slowly and very human like, into the house and seated herself by the
fire. We followed her, of course, and took our seats near her. She was not the image of a
murderer that one would suspect. She wasn’t tense, anxious, nervous, or paranoid. She was calm,
eerily calm, and distant. She stared into the dying embers; her eyes hazy like the low-hanging fog
My heart, my ancient lifeless stone heart, was breaking in half. Was she speaking the
truth? Had she really killed her sister? And if so, why? What could have possessed Aleksandra,
nay, pushed her to that extreme? Dreading the truth but apparently being powerless to stop my
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mouth from forming words, I finally broke the silence in the room.
“What do you mean you killed her?” I asked as I stared at this shell of a vampire sitting
in her blood stained clothing before me.
“It means I killed her!” she responded angrily. “I killed her! She is dead, no longer alive!
That is what I meant!” Her hands gripped onto the arms of the chair and her fingernails tore the
heavy fabric as they dug into the sides.
“But why did you kill her, Aleksandra?” Winston asked.
She began crying uncontrollably, her tears running down her cheeks too quickly for her
to dab them away with her skirt. It was then that I realized that the majority of her dress was
smeared with her own blood. She had been carrying on like this for some time before coming
home. I was sure of it.
“Why did you kill her?” I demanded.
“It’s what she wanted,” she said. “I only did what she wanted me to do.”
I gasped loudly and nearly dropped off my chair in shock. I began to shake. Winston
went to her, took her into his arms, and held her in a firm embrace. She continued to cry on his
shoulder for several minutes. I tried to struggle with Anastasia being gone while knowing
Aleksandra, my pride and joy, had killed her and that Anastasia had wanted this.
The night’s events had been too much for me. While Winston and Aleksandra remained
embraced, her crying and him comforting, I mustered the strength to rise from my chair and
make it to my chamber. I collapsed on my bed, mentally exhausted, and wept heavily until I had
fallen asleep.
In the present day and age of medical science Anastasia’s infliction, her disease, would
be called Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia: a disease that scientists now believe results from a
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genetic predisposition, a chemical defect in the brain, a physical abnormality in the brain, or a
combination of all three. The disease is rather complicated, actually. But, from all my research, I
have come to the conclusion that Anastasia suffered from a paranoid subtype of Schizophrenia.
She saw things, heard voices, and was overall a paranoid person. But she also had mixtures of
some other subtypes but I won’t get into that here. Let me just say, for the record, there are little
grey men and the government is out to get you, but they weren’t interested in Anastasia despite
her hallucinations. Oh, yeah, and vampire’s aren’t real either. Well, at least that’s what we told
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the evening after. When I woke, Anastasia’s husband was
waiting for me in the main parlor. He was dressed rather rustically. His hair was unkempt and he
looked as if he had been waiting for hours, which he had been. He had come to inform me of
Anastasia’s death. He was distraught, lost, and had not slept since it had happened. I urged him
to go with my maid to be freshened up and put into bed and after awhile he finally accepted my
Just how had she died? Well, of course I had asked. His tale was as disorganized as he
was, but nevertheless, he spoke the truth or at least the truth from what he had seen.
He explained to me, while sitting by the fire warming his hands over the flame, that after
Aleksandra arrived he had excused himself for a brisk walk. The night air had been refreshing
for he had been cooped up in that tiny cottage for over a week and needed the reprieve. So, after
a brisk stroll and a chat with a farmer from a neighboring cottage, he entered the house to find
the bedroom door wide open and the body of his beloved wife slung over the bed, blood coming
out of her mouth. Aleksandra was long gone.
He had not seen what truly happened and he feared she died of a seizure. The doctors
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confirmed this diagnosis with him due to the blood at her mouth. She did not die of a seizure
though, no, she did not. I found the truth after Aleksandra and Winston awoke and joined me in
the parlor.
She was cleaned and in new clothing, mourning clothing. Her dress was sleek and black,
which only heightened the paleness of her skin. Winston, too, was dressed in black, a suit and
waistcoat with a stark white shirt. They made a rather gruesome pair with all their black and pale
skin. I stood out in my sea foam gown. I promised myself that I would make haste and change
into a more appropriate wardrobe after I talked with the gruesome duo.
I remember Winston sitting at my writing desk, playing with the quill and rubbing it on
his cheeks. Aleksandra was sitting near the fire, still drained from the previous evening but
looking as if some of her spirits were coming back. I took my seat on the leather seti under the
main window.
“Aleksandra, he’s in this house. He came this morning to announce the death,” I said.
“Yes, I know. I can hear his heart beat upstairs,” she replied.
“What happened last night?” I asked. “He said he found Anastasia slung over the bed
with blood coming from her mouth.”
She didn’t respond at first. She still seemed detached from the rest of the world, like she
was floating in a dream-like state as if she were waiting to wake up and find this whole ordeal to
be nothing more than a bad dream.
It was Winston who finally probed her to talk. He assured her that I wouldn’t be angry
with her. And no, I wasn’t angry. I was far too busy mourning the loss of one daughter and the
downfall of another, to be angry with her.
She sighed heavily and then began her story, “When I got there she was already
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experiencing the death pains. Her heartbeat was sluggish and weak, her skin - as pale as mine.
When she saw me, mother, she could tell the transformation. She could hear the difference in my
voice and could see the shimmering of my skin in the bright candlelight.”
“What did she say, if anything?” I asked.
“She said ‘I see, you will do nicely.’ I was confused but, she wouldn’t clarify,” she
answered. “Then, she asked me to kill her. She was blunt about it. She did not want to be like
me, she wanted to be dead. She said it was the only way to escape the voices.”
“Oh, dear,” I said with a sigh.
“I argued with her. I told her that they would find a cure, that I would find a cure, a
remedy. But no, she would not have this! I could sense the hurt, the confusion, and the despair in
her mind. I could feel the evil around her. It was suffocating her. She wanted to be free of it. Her
mind was guilted with the people she had harmed and she could no longer fight the attacks on
her soul. She wanted to be rid of this world and be free, truly free. She wanted to exist
incorporeal and without pain.”
She paused and stared into the far corner where the light was sparse. Winston urged her
to continue and, hesitatingly, she did.
“So,” she continued, still staring into the vacant and dark corner. “I took her into my
arms, and before I could do anything, I threw her onto the bed. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take
my own sister’s life, no matter how much….” She began to cry.
“Don’t shed anymore tears, my child.” I went and sat next to her, the heat from the fire
warming me gently.
“We struggled, mother, struggled. She called me names. She cursed me. I told her I
would never kill her. I assured her she was close to death, it was only a matter of days, but she
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would not have that. She put every last bit of energy she had into struggling with me until she
finally collapsed on the bed,” she paused. “Then, as I leaned over her checking her pulse, she
begged me to end it. I took her into my arms, sunk my teeth into her neck, and then nearly
collapsed from the images the blood showed me.”
“What were these images?” I asked curiously.
“Murder… hate… greed… vengeance… corruption,” she responded looking at the corner
now with hatred. “I saw no light, no peace, and only a little glimpse of love and that was for her
naïve husband.”
“So, she was truly mad then, evil beyond redemption,” I responded in disbelief.
“Yes, she was evil. There was no helping her,” she replied. “But, it wasn’t her fault. It
was in her from the beginning, this evil. She got it from our mother, I’m sure of it.”
She continued to stare into the corner. I saw nothing in the corner, only shadows.
Aleksandra grew angrier as she stared into the corner. A scornful look came upon her face.
“What’s over there?” I finally asked. “What is it that you see?”
“Can’t you see for yourself?” she asked. “Oh, yes, probably not. She’s haunting me,
mother. This is what she wanted. She wanted to me to kill her so she could live on and haunt me
for eternity.”
I glanced back at the corner with a puzzling look on my face.
“Don’t be silly, Aleksandra, ghosts don’t exist.”
“We exist and so do ghosts. They are stuck here just as we are. Just some of them remain
here by choice.”
With this she stood and told Winston to confirm their travel plans. They were to leave for
the New World as soon as possible. I continued to stare at the apparently not so vacant corner in
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The day Anastasia had been buried was raining because that night, the streets were near
flooding and the rain was still coming down steadily. The housekeeper had informed me that it
had been raining like that since dawn.
Even though Anastasia’s body was laid to rest under a heavy six feet of rich English soil,
her spirit remained floating about. It haunted Aleksandra. And, despite the fact that we couldn’t
see the apparition, we felt its presence everywhere. It was an eerie feeling, knowing that you
were being watched. But the specter seemed to follow Aleksandra when she left for the New
World, so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Ghosts exist and we have no other choice but to
endure their stay until they feel ready to move on.
The night of her burial, I went into the quaint churchyard cemetery where her body was
to remain for eternity, rotted, bloated, and putridly decomposed. But that night, for the first and
last time, I entered into that cemetery and stood before her grave. There was a meager heaping of
wild roses on the dirt and I added to it an exotic, indigo violet bud.
One evening, when the girls were much younger, Anastasia had seen an image of that
flower sketched in a book and had proclaimed it to be the “most exquisite thing” she had ever
seen. Now this delicate bud with its fuzzy petals was lying carelessly on her grave and would
melt into the dirt above her body and be with her forever.
I lingered there watching the moonlight dance off the mist-covered petals. The air was
stale and desolate. The night sky was cloudless and glowing brightly with a multitude of
twinkling stars. It was serene sitting there. The smell of the Earth, the stillness of the air, the light
from the moon and stars, all of it creating an ambience around me and in the center, a freshly
covered grave. It reminded me, especially on a calm evening as that had been, that not all of life
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is happy days and lust filled nights. Not all stories have a happy ending; not all Princesses’ find
their Prince Charming, and not all fairy tales end with “happily ever after.”
I remember looking at the grave, the dirt piled high and thick, and then it began to rain.
Not a downpour, mind you, just a drizzle. Not even enough to soak the ground. But, as it
collected on the flower petals and the tombstones, I noticed a slight shimmer to everything
around me. It was as if an unseen life force moved with the moonlight, giving everything a tiny
spark of life. But alas, it had just been the moonlight and it’s silly play on my imagination. Yet, I
did feel something around me, embracing me, comforting me, and drying my crimson tears.
I said my farewells to Anastasia and cursed myself for never devoting enough attention to
finding a cure. The guilt weighed on me heavily and I was burdened by it daily. I am still
burdened by it, actually.
A New Year was dawning and with it a sense of excitement and mystery in me. The
letters coming from the colonies were dismal, yet they begged me to visit them soon. I had no
desire to make that journey and leave my country.
I must state that England still held many cities and various sites yet to be seen. I took the
next five years, corresponding often through post with Aleksandra and Winston, traveling the
beautiful villages and cities of England.
My first stop was in the city of Exeter, in the county Devon. It was originally a Roman
town after the Romans invaded southwestern England in 50 AD and named it Isca. The town,
itself, has survived a German invasion in the 7th century, a Danish raid in the 8th century, was
victorious against a Norman siege in 1068, and even the turmoil of Henry VIII’s religious civil
war against parliament, only to thrive as a prosperous town. I enjoyed walking along the
remnants of the 2nd century wall the Romans had built around the city.
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Oh, and Exeter Cathedral! I mustn’t forget Exeter Cathedral. The cathedral had been the
training ground for the English Saint Boniface who had converted northern Germany to
Christianity. The cathedral’s construction had begun in 1112 and, to this day, still sports it’s twin
Norman towers. And between these two towers resided a truly marvelous architectural wonder,
the longest uninterrupted true Gothic vault in the whole wide world. Truly, something any
architect or someone merely interested in the evolution of architecture as myself can appreciate.
Then my travels took me to York, once a mere fortress situated near the rivers Ouse and
Foss. It was once named Eboracum and was one of the Roman Empire’s leading cities. But in
AD 400, when the fighting in Gaul had placed a restraint on the Roman’s resources, the town’s
Roman Legions were withdrawn. The town went through several changes after that. It was taken
over by the Anglo Saxon tribes, was introduced to Christianity, captured by the Vikings and
made into a crucial port in their trade routes, and was eventually take over by William the
Under his rule, York began to grow, and continued to for over three centuries, and
became the capitol of northern England. But, by the 1400’s, with the War of the Roses, the city’s
industries began to leave causing the population to decline.
It then suffered more during the renunciation of the Church of Rome by Henry VIII. The
city of York, being a religious center, suffered immensely. But even due to those struggles and
low points in the city’s history, York now thrives as a major tourist destination.
My first night in York was eventful. I had went the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, and
finding a grand ball being conducted under it’s roof, welcomed myself in and partook of the
delightfully well-educated company. I remember dancing with several handsome men that
evening, and even pleased one in particular. We had ventured onto the Hall’s spacious grounds;
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he was giving me a moonlit tour. I gave him an hour or so worth of lust filled attention and he
gave me, unknowingly, dinner. I left him alive and asleep from the drink.
Over the next month, I visited the infirmed in the Hall’s hospital for the poor. Most of the
patients appeared destitute and extremely sickly. Many were near death and wouldn’t last days,
yet they held on to the hands of their young and their loved ones, not wanting to leave the bounds
of the earth; not wanting to leave their beloveds. Out of pity, and perhaps remembrance for the
sick children I had once cared for, I bestowed on many of these patients various coins and
jewelry. Many of the patients thought that I was an angel as I passed by their beds cloaked in my
white fur dress that drag along the ground cleverly hiding my feet; my hair strung up in pearls.
Near dawn, on most evenings, I would dip my feet into the cool waters of the River Ouse.
I would watch the pale moonlight reflecting on the rippling water. I would hear the ships setting
sail or coming to port. The air would smell musty yet fresh. I would lay there, nearest to the
shore as possible, and watch the stars. Sometimes, it would rain, and when it did, those evenings
were the most enjoyable of all my nights in York.
Tearing myself away from those blissful nights on the banks of the River Ouse, I
journeyed to Bristol to witness the appalling damage that had befallen the Bath Abbey. Much of
the Abbey was ruined during the dissolution of the monasteries ordered by Henry VIII in 1539.
Now, I stood amongst the rubble, the broken stained glass, the ruined history, and a feeling was
creeping over me. Slowly, and ever so hauntingly, a shadow emerged from behind a large stone
pillar. A sense of familiarity crept over me. I watched the figure move slowly along the back
wall of the chapel. It stopped when it had me in its sights.
“Good evening, stranger. Bring yourself out of the shadow. I am nothing to be afraid of,”
I said, not fearing that the figure could be a robber or murderer. Nothing mortal could harm me.
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A few moments passed by, the wind howled through the broken windows making a
subtle whistle as it passed over the shards of glass. The figure inched along; creeping by the wall,
remaining concealed in the shadows. I could make out the subtleties of a male figure but nothing
“Bree?” it asked. The voice was familiar.
“Aksel?” I asked. “Is that you?”
From behind the shadows emerged my first love, my Aksel. He was clad in simple
clothing, tattered at the hem, and worn around the shoulders. His hair was tousled carelessly but
looked rather whimsical in the pale moonlight. His broad chin and glistening eyes were more
pronounced with the subtleties of age. Time had been kind to his features, improving them as
only the blood can.
“It is you!” he said as he emerged.
“Aksel, I never thought I would ever see you again. And now, you’re here, where I least
expected to ever find you.” I took him into my arms and held him there tightly.
“Never see me again? Oh, Bree, we were destined to see each other again. It was
inevitable.” He kissed my lips softly. “I just didn’t know I would find you here, either.”
“Where is Evelyn?” I asked after we had sat down on a nearby ruined pew.
“She grew up. That’s really the only way I can describe it. She doesn’t need me
anymore,” he began, his gaze staring through the broken ceiling into the starlight night sky. “She
found a man, he fell head over heels for her. They were quickly joined in the blood and soon
after had four blood children. They were all adults, of age at least, and very well educated, two
girls and two boys. I’m sure they will make more. And they seem so happy, like one giant
family. I envy them and so, I make it a point to visit their little commune often.”
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“Unbelievable, Aksel. I never took Evelyn to be of that type of character. But, then again,
I haven’t know her as long as you have.”
“Yeah, well she is. She’s made a wonderful name for herself through some charitable
giving. Really, Bree, through the years she only reminded me of you more and more every day.
Her heart really is pure and kind and she does everything with love and passion,” he said fondly.
“I made one like that as well,” I responded fondly.
“Are you with someone right now?” he asked nervously. “I mean, are you traveling with
“No,” I answered with a hint of sadness in my voice.
“No?” he asked. “What happened, Bree? I can feel the pain you have locked tightly
inside your beautiful heart. Who was he?”
I proceeded to tell him the entire story of my love affair with Pavel. I told him about the
twins. And we were together again, reunited by the common bonds of not wanting to be alone,
and we were enjoying every second of every night. We traveled together for over ten years,
stopping in the most exotic places and savoring the cultures of now forgotten peoples. It was a
magical and blessed time.
In the summer of 1575 we departed the fog stricken land of England for the
Mediterranean country of Greece. Athens, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, we seen them all with the
brilliant shadows of the moonlight dancing off the water. The night air was warm and the breeze
so utterly inviting. If I could only use one word to describe Greece, only one simple word, it
would be “bewitching” because it placed a spell over me.
We began in Athens and spent the entire summer among the ruined temples. Akel’s
favorite was the Library of Hadrian located on the north side of the Acropolis. He cherished the
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architecture and the materials used to construct it. He explained, in detail and with great fervor,
how the north, south, and east walls were made of limestone, and how the Western Wall, being
of special importance and elaborately decorated with a row of Corinthian columns, was made of
Pentelic marble. Pentelic marble, as he described, was the chief marble used in Greek statuary
and could be found in the quarries of Mount Pentelikon in Attica. He found immense joy in
talking about marble. I wish I could have shared his enthusiasm but I enjoyed listening to his
speak nonetheless.
I enjoyed walking in the “outer Kerameikos” where lived the famous cemetery and the
“demos sema.” In 431 B.C., Perikles gave his famous funeral oration there. From reading copies
of his speech as a child there is a part of his speech that has become branded on my mind. “Our
constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states; we are rather a pattern to others than
imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called
a democracy,” he had written. To not allow democracy amongst the peoples of a country is a
crime punishable by death, in my opinion. I find it terribly saddening that there are still countries
that don’t have a democratic government. It’s frightening to think that there are still people out
there who don’t have the freedom of choice.
Aksel never understood why I liked to linger there in the wee hours before the sun came
up. He said it was morbid. So he would go sit by the shore or walk in the ruined temples and I
would walk around the Kerameikos. And so, a year passed by as we relished in the
Mediterranean moonlight, and life was bearable. Nay, it was pleasant.
I then had the idea, as the new summer dawned, that we should travel to Mykonos. Aksel
loved the idea, of course, and so we made our way there.
Our first stop was to the most important Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries of Ancient Greece, the
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Island of Delos. The birthplace of Apollo and Artemis; the island revealed by Poseidon. The
story of Delos is a fascinating tale in Greek Mythology, told for centuries upon centuries, age
after age.
The legend states that Leto became pregnant by Zeus. Hera, Zeus’s wife, became jealous
of Leto and drove her away, forbidding her to give birth on any place on Earth. When Leto was
near birth, Zeus asked Poseidon for help. Poseidon opened a part of the sea revealing the island
of Delos. Delos became the middle of the Cyclades Islands.
Delos was once an important Grecian island for religions. However, the island became
rather stagnate after Christianity came upon its shore. I enjoyed the ruined temples and the
calming atmosphere, nonetheless.
Then came Mykonos, the center of Cyclades, the place where the legendary Hercules had
defeated the giants. There are these enormous rocks scattered about the island which legend
claims are the giant’s petrified corpses. The island itself, even though sporting very little
vegetation, could be simply called the Venice of Greece. It’s sea, deep and blue as a sapphire,
and white waves, was bathed in bright sunlight during the day and then cold moonlight at
I found nothing lasting in Mykonos; nothing containing my attentions and we moved on.
We came upon the island of Crete, the largest of the Grecian islands. The aroma of olive
trees, orange groves, and cedar forests welcomed us. The island itself separates the Aegean Sea
from the Libyan Sea with a varied expanse of mountainous land filled with cedar and palm
forest, vineyards, and various fruit producing groves. When we first stepped on Cretian soil, as
the moonlight hit the Aegean Sea before us, sparkling in the starlight, a small conversation
ensued and then nothing, thereafter, until we departed.
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“Did you feel that?” he had asked, his eyes wide and bright.
“Yes,” I had answered softly.
“What was it?” he inquired.
“Magic. It was magic,” I answered. We both fell silent and beheld the beauty of the
island. Not a single word was expressed until we left.
It was magic that we felt, nothing less. For when you set foot on Crete, you sense a
magical and mysterious presence, it encircles and embraces you, it warms your core, courses
through your veins, and you suddenly feel your soul grow.
We visited the various caves. The Cave of Sentori at Zoniana is the richest cave in Crete
when it comes to natural beauty. Oh, and the Dikteon Cave is believed to be the birthplace of
Zeus. And then there is the Ideon Cave, which was where Rhea hid the baby Zeus from the
murderous Saturn. And we visited the Arkadi Monastery. In the 16th century it was given a
baroque style architectural layout and its function was reminiscent of Minoan palaces. It all
spoke magical phrases to me, whispering in the dark. But alas, we could not stay there forever,
nor did I ever want to.
From Mykonos, we journeyed to what would be our last stop in Greece, Rhodes. Rhodes
was the island of light because there were scarcely any days that weren’t sunny. Sadly, I never I
got to see them. For me, Rhodes was bathed in a constant blackness, as was everything in my
life. I heard the seas are crystal clear there. Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen their beauty without
the glimmer of the moonlight in the waves.
The moonlight did give beauty to one thing on that island and that was the elaborate blue
and white tiled floor of the Hospice of St. Catherine. The swirling patterns seemed to become
animated in the twinkling moonlight. In 1516 the Hospice had been rebuilt after being destroyed
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in 1480 in a siege and in 1481 by an earthquake. It was refreshing to find a place like that with
such history.
Chapter Thirteen
Traveling far from the moonlit shores of Greece, from the pleasant smell of orange
groves and the sight of olive trees, we ventured to a hidden country, small yet proud. To what
some consider and icy fortress of humble people, yet I found it to be warm and rich in spirit and
in life. We found ourselves in a city called Lhasa in a country called Tibet. In a country situated
on the Qinghai – Tibet Plateau, on the southwest frontier of China.
The history of Tibet has fascinated me since I had drunk the blood of a Chinese man in
London once. Visions of brightly colored costumes, dancing flames and children laughing
merrily swam in his blood. His inner voice, as if it were narrating, spoke a cryptic message:
Tibet… New Years… Losar. Ever since, I have been secretly longing to decode the meaning of
those words. Then I found myself in Tibet, at last, willing and adventurous, wanting to fulfill the
Tibet originated from the Qiang, a nomadic warlike tribe. The Yarlung Kings unified
much of central Tibet and spread the borders reaching into Central Asia, Northern India, and
Pakistan. In the 15th century, the Gelugpa, an order of monks, rose to power. Their Lamas were
believed to be reincarnations of their predecessors. The 3rd such Lama was bestowed the title of
‘Dalai,’ which means ‘ocean.’ The name Dalai Lama thus implying, ‘ocean of wisdom.’ Ever
since, Tibet has been a source of unrest; it’s people wishing to be liberated. Perhaps, one day,
Tibet will be freed.
In autumn, when the apricot trees were blooming in the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region,
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legend says that a festival was born, Losar, the New Year. It began before Buddhism when the
religion of Bon was practiced in Tibet as a winter ceremony of high spiritual importance. Vast
amounts of incense were offered to please the spirits of the local dead, the protectors, and the
Bon deities.
We arrived during the first evening of Losar; the moon hung bright in the sky, the air
fragranced with the scent of Guthuk, and the people merry and festive. Various balls of dough
were being passed around the gathering crowds, hidden inside some were cotton, some rice, and
some wool, all a comment on the recipient’s character. The faces of the people, bright and
hopeful, took on a soft blur as we moved through the crowded streets and passed the lit houses.
A joyous spirit enveloped the air around me and I could feel the energy of these people
radiating above me. As I walked admiring the lively festivities, a young child, no older than
seven or eight, thrust into my cold hands a small white ball of cooked dough. For a moment I
stood there frozen as I watched him and his sister handing these balls to everyone walking past
their house. Keeping with the culture and living in the moment, I cracked open the small
crumbling bundle. After the crumbs had fallen to the ground, being trampled on by several tiny
feet as they shuffled past, a round lump of coal remained staining the palm of my hand with ash.
The surprise inside revealed to the children that I had a black heart. At first, I was alarmed but
then noticed the children scurrying about not noticing my secret. And I continued about,
dropping the vile coal, savoring the freshness of the mountain air.
I spotted Aksel, with his chiseled features and striking eyes, purchasing what appeared to
be fabric from an elderly Tibetan woman. His smile had her entranced. She was to be his victim,
his prize. He made a game of it sometimes, luring them in for the kill. I admired his ability to
play the part, the part of a fiend, which I could no longer play.
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I was in a state of constant unknowingness. I was vampire, a creature of the night, a
beast. I was a villain, the haunt of many a child’s dreams, and sometimes a menace. But was
there not more to my character? Was there not a shred of humanity left in me? I felt compassion
for those my kind hunts. I felt anger when they died. Yet, on some level, instinct told me that this
was the way it had to be. We killed them because we were superior to them. But why were we
superior to them? Were we Gods? No. Yet, we were separate from humanity and lost in this inbetween world. The life that surrounded us, even fed us, was so separate from what we were.
And still we hungered to be one with them again, as we were before our transformations.
Some of us took to silence after many years of trying to fit in. Some of us still endured
and made our mortal friends so we could stay connected to that web of life, or at least as close as
we could manage. And then some of us went mad in our desperation. Some of us hid ourselves
from the life we could not have. We slept our immortality away, or at least tried to.
I never thought for one moment after I had been made, that I would one day become so
passionately in love with humanity that I would no longer be able to endure it. I never once
imagined going into the ground, sleeping in the Earth, and letting my mind cease to think. But,
that is just what I did.
I left a letter for Aksel and left before he came back from his hunt one night. I resisted the
urge to tell him face-to-face that I was going into the ground because I knew he could talk me
out of it.
I went into the night sky, watching the twinkle of the city beneath me fade away slowly. I
flew quickly as the tears rolled down my cheeks.
The night was chilly and the fog hung low when I landed. My estate was silent, no fires
lit, no servants about; it was lifeless, as was I. England embraced me that night, as I whispered
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farewell to the stars. The moon shown brightly upon the path I followed to the cellar. The door
creaked as I opened it, the steps groaned under my weight as I descended.
The scent of earth and clay, of cobwebs and dust, invited me in. It was dark, dank, and
dreary, and fit my mood perfectly. After securing the inner door, the secret door, and making
sure everything was safe, I buried myself deep in the earth. I shut my eyes and slept.
My life, my mortal life, played out like a movie in my dreams. I felt the sun on my skin,
the warmth of its rays giving me life and the softness of the grass on my feet. I smelled the scents
of cooking bread from the convent’s kitchen. I heard the sound of nuns singing Alms and the
smell of the incense in the chapel. I saw my brother before his skin became pale.
I lived in a dream world. I lived in a world where peace existed, where I was human
again, and where life was innocent and pure. And one day my bubble was burst, my dream was
over. I heard a call, a longing. I felt tears collect on my grave. I heard my name and I arose and
there my Aksel stood.
“Oh, my sweet Bree, you’ve awakened!” he embraced me tightly. “I was beginning to
think you would never wake.”
I looked around the cellar and not a single thing had changed despite the added growth of
some spider webs and what appeared to be a mole hole in the far-left corner. But then I looked at
Aksel and noticed his attire to be odd. His hairstyle was spiked with some sort of product and
what appeared to be green coloring graced the pinnacle of each of these spikes. He wore faded
jeans, ripped in the knees, and a rainbow colored shirt that, if I had been human and subject to
diseases of the mind, would have given me a seizure for sure.
“How long have I been asleep?” I asked. My clothes were caked with dirt. It was in my
hair, my eyes, and my mouth. “What year is it?”
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“You won’t believe me.”
“Is it 1600? 1700?” I asked. “Come now. I couldn’t have slept too long.”
“Bree, it’s the year 1980.”
“1980?” I asked. “How could I have slept so long?” I asked, astonished, bewildered,
“I’ve waited a long, long time for you, My Love,” he whispered tenderly taking my
shaking, unbelieving, and shocked form into his arms.
And so it began, a new era, a new life.
Chapter Fourteen
It was an age of discovery for me. I had awoken from 395 years of sleep and the customs
and attire of the new age frightened yet exhilarated me. I was ready to embrace the new
inventions, the electric lights, the telephone; I even delighted in spending hours upon hour’s
mesmerized by the images that flashed on the television screen. But the cars, the buses, and the
airplanes, they terrified me. It took years for me to adjust to such drastic changes. Even now, as I
sit staring out over the calm waters of Lake Michigan through the spacious glass windows in my
condominium, the sound of a helicopter circling to land at a nearby hospital send chills down my
spine. It just seems so unnatural to me that humanity can travel 65 miles per hour in a car, or fly
thousands of feet in the air in a steel jet.
Aksel and I spent countless hours shopping for acid washed jeans and tye died t-shirts. I
thought I looked rather smashing dressed in neon with my hair all poofed up. Gallons upon
gallons of Aquanet hairspray had been sacrificed for the poofy and elaborate hairstyles of the
day. But now that I look back on those days, I feel like most that embraced such fashion
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nightmares, in utter disbelief that I ever wore those clothes and used so much Aquanet.
That year, 1980, the year I was transformed as a caterpillar is transformed as it emerges
from it’s cocoon, was eventful and help to open my eyes to a new and ever changing world. Mt.
St. Helen’s erupted killing 62 people. The ash from the eruption covered an area of about 250
square miles. Fourteen people were killed in race riots in Miami, Florida after white police
officers were acquitted of beating a black man to death. The Republicans took control of the
American Presidency with the election of Reagan and Bush. John Lennon was killed by s
deranged fan. Thousands mourned his passing but I never knew him or his music.
Some nights we would go to the dance clubs and boogie down to sounds of Funkytown
by the Lipps and Blondie’s Call Me. We engrossed ourselves in the lights, sounds, and the youth
of the club scene. The crowded dance floors and the rhythm of the stomping feet and waving
hands held me in a trance. The world was awake to me, wide-eyed and ready for my embrace.
For ten years we partied nightly and slept in separate beds. On the outside we appeared to
be the in-love couple, the newly weds. We traveled extensively, all over Europe, Asia, and then,
finally, in 1986, we ventured to visit Aleksandra and Winston in America and it was there that I
He never saw it coming really. And it wasn’t revenge for him hurting me those centuries
past. It wasn’t malicious or spiteful. It was honest and freeing.
We had been living in a spacious condo not too far from Lakeshore drive with
Aleksandra and Winston. My Aleksandra had opened a halfway house for pregnant teenagers
and she poured herself into helping others every night. Winston was still by her side. He loved
her generosity, her kindness, and her strength. All those centuries while I slept, their love grew
stronger than I could ever have imagined it could. Nothing was ever going to come between
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them. No, never. And nothing, to this day, has.
We lived with them for a little over a year and things were perfect for a while. But,
eventually, life caught up with me, as it always had, and I was consumed with that lingering
sadness and empty feeling that I was missing something in my life.
One night in October, we were throwing a large fundraiser full of socialite blood and rich
pocket books when I spotted Aksel smiling from across the room. The heated swirl of the packed
ballroom, the skirts swooshing about on the dance floor, and there among all the chaos was his
electric smile lighting up the room. I watched him as he talked with a young girl. She couldn’t
have been no more than twenty-five. She could have been a model, her skin taut and free of the
burden of age. Her eyes were a soft violet, sparkling like Champaign glasses. Her hair was long,
luscious, and black as the night sky. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her.
I went outside onto this balcony that overlooked State Street. The traffic whizzed below. I
stepped off the ledge. I allowed myself to be carried into the chilly October wind. The strong
current carried me far that night and, eventually, I made it back to my estate in England. For
three nights I lingered about the dusty hallways and stale rooms collecting on my fingertips the
dust that had settled over the years. I didn’t dare disturb the white sheets covering the furniture or
the heavy drapes covering the windows.
Then on the third night I slipped outside, an odd mixture of uneasiness and longing filling
my soul. I slipped into the night, the sweet forgiving night, and upon a tree I saw the most
splendid, miraculous site. As I wondered through the property, which had somehow changed
very little since I had hidden away with sleep and made the journey to America, I saw,
underneath a giant oak by the brook, a single flower.
Its midnight velvety hue was softened in the mysterious moonlight. It’s edges dimmed
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and demure. And it lingered there, growing, existing, while the leaves were changing with the
season and the brook was flooding over. And I sat down on the edge of the brook, my toes
lingering in the refreshing water, and I watched this tiny blossom waver in the gentle night wind.
All my worries seemed to melt away. All my fears subsided. And I realized something
that I had never realized before. And maybe it had been the sleep, the deep vampiral sleep, which
had allowed my head to finally clear of those long embraced negative thoughts. Or perhaps the
sleep had matured me in a way living through the years hadn’t. But, I realized I had to live in the
now and I had to say farewell to my past for good. I had to forgive myself for all the pain I had
caused, for the loves I let slip sweetly into the night, and for those I could not help but embrace
with my cursed touch. I had to no longer live to give power to those personal demons I let live
inside me, but I needed to live now for the light, any ray I could find.
And so, on a very frigid night in October, I ventured back to Chicago where Aksel waited
for my return.
I found him sitting in Aleksandra’s library; he was trying to distract himself with the
words written on a page. I stood outside the library; the door was ajar allowing me to see in. His
back was to me. A fire raged in the marble fireplace casting a warm glow about the room. The
smell of cedar lingered heavily from the wall-to-wall bookshelves.
A familiar presence crept up behind me as I stood there watching him. Her hand fell
gently upon my shoulder. I turned slightly and she embraced me warmly. A single tear was
formed in the corner of her eye and she nodded, we both smilled bitter sweetly.
Then, as silently as she had come, she drifted off down the darkened hallway leading to her and
Winston’s bedroom.
“Can I come in?” I asked softly.
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He turned around, startled, his book dropping to the floor.
“Where have you been? You just disappeared on me! Where did you go?” He rose from
the couch causing the leather to creak.
“I saw you with her,” I replied.
“Her? Her who?”
“That girl at the party,” I said as I entered and took a seat in corner chair.
“Ah,” he replied under his breath.
He took his seat back on the couch, his head buried in his hands. The fire crackled as a
soft fall rain began to fall on the windows. His eyes were closed and tears were forming staining
the corners of his eyes.
“Did it hurt you to see me with her?” he asked.
“At first, yes it did,” I answered.
“Is that why you left then?”
“No,” I answered firmly.
He stood and faced the window looking out over the bustling traffic on Lake Shore Drive.
“Then why?” he asked. “Were you trying to hurt me then?”
“Aksel, no, I was not trying to hurt you,” I replied softly. “I was trying to help you.”
“Help me?” He whipped around. “How was you leaving like that helping me? I never
wanted you to leave! I worried about you. I waited for you to return!”
I walked over to him until we were close enough to touch each other. His eyes sparkled
like wildfire jewels in the firelight.
“I saw how you looked at her. I saw the longing in your eyes,” I said as I took his hands
into mine. “You couldn’t take your eyes off of her, Aksel.”
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“And you were jealous?” he asked. “She was just a meal, Bree – a conquest.”
“No,” I replied. “I was not jealous.”
“I don’t understand then.” He dropped my hand and turned to face the window once
“Can I ask you a question, Aksel?” I asked.
“Of course,” he replied.
“And will you answer honestly?”
“Of course.”
“When are you going to let me go?” I asked.
Several minutes passed with the only sound in the room coming from the crackling fire
that was beginning to die out. The light in the room was fading enhancing the twinkling city
lights outside. He finally broke the silence that was beginning to deafen the room like a plague as
it spread all around.
“I never said I wanted to let you go.”
“Aksel, I know you want to let me go. You need to let me go. You need to free yourself
from me,” I replied.
“But, I love you,” he said, still looking out over the city.
“And I love you,” I answered.
“Then why shouldn’t we be together?” he asked. “ I waited there for you to wake up. I
never knew if you would. I just waited, and waited, hoping your eyes would open one day.”
“I can’t even begin to thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” I began. “You kept
me safe, you took care of my estate. You made sure I didn’t slip into oblivion and that I wasn’t
forgotten. And for this I am ever so grateful. But, you and I are looking for separate things. We
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are searching for that one person who is going to fulfill us and make us content with ourselves.
No matter how many times we try this it’s not going to work. It’s nice for awhile, then we both
end up wanting more.”
“You know,” he interrupted me. “I once thought you were that person for me.”
“Was that why you couldn’t let go of me? Is that why you kept watch over me?” I asked.
“Yes, I think so,” he replied.
“I want you to be free now, Aksel. Be free and love whom you were meant to love. Be
“And what happens if you slip into sleep again?” he asked. He turned to face me. The
concern for my safety present in his eyes.
“Then I sleep. But I release you from any obligation to protect me. You can’t exist to
protect me. I must protect myself,” I replied.
The room was quiet and calm. The breeze blew gently outside bringing with it the subtle
scent of the river. The calm blur of the traffic whizzing by below created a spectacle of colors
and sounds. Horns honked in the distance. Someone below shouted obscenities and a young man
standing on the corner of State St. cried of the coming apocalypse. This was my city. This was
my home. This was where I belonged.
“Why do we exist?” His masculine voice breaking the silence with such an intriguing
“Your guess is as good as mine, my friend,” I answered him with a slight chuckle.
“Seriously, haven’t you ever thought about it? Why we are here?” I took a seat on a green
settee and poked at the dying fire igniting and rekindling some of the embers with newspaper.
“Of course I’ve thought about it. I have no answer though. I’ve thought about it every day
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since I was made.” I stared into the growing fire watching the wood burn and turn to ash. “I
don’t think we’ll ever find the answers that we pine for so diligently. It’s not meant to be. Some
things are just better off left to the imagination.”
“What if we did find the answers? What would happen then? Imagine if we knew why we
existed; our place in the scheme of life?” he asked as he took a seat next to me.
After a long pause I answered, “Then it would surely be a revolution of sorts.”
“How so?” he asked.
“Imagine, Aksel, if we knew why we were here it would give us the upper hand. We
would be the dominant species. We would have the knowledge while the rest of the population
scrambled around like ants busily hurrying about in their mundane existences.”
“Ah, I see,” he replied. “But, aren’t we already in charge, per say?”
“No,” I replied. “We crave to be human again. We don’t embrace what we are now but
wish that we were once again human. The struggle for balance causes some of us to go insane
and others to drift off into an endless sleep. When we can learn to move past that, then we have
the upper hand. Then we are in control.”
“But,” he began. “What if, in the end, we find out that we only exist to be monsters, to
prey on the living, and to exist merely to exist.”
“Because there is always a bigger scheme, Aksel; good and evil,” I answered.
“And do we know yet, if we are good or evil?” he asked.
“I think that by nature we are evil and that only through redemption can we be good.”
He chuckled heartily.
“What?” I asked.
“The nun never fades away, does she?”
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“We are all what we once were, Aksel.”
With that I rose and bid him good night. I went to the chamber Aleksandra had prepared
for me, closed the drapes, and was fast asleep.
Sleep was different now that I had once slipped into that eternal sleep and been awoken
from its calm void. It was more refreshing. I dreamt now too. I dreamt of the sunny images that I
saw flashing on the television screen. I dreamt of the people I had known, those long gone and
never to return. So many things I dreamt and each morning I would log them down in my journal
and seek to interpret them. It was only for my amusement, of course.
Time slipped by like granules of sand in an hourglass. The seasons changed and with it
the occupants living in the apartment. Aksel came and went as he pleased, taking several trips to
his beloved Norway and to visit Evelyn’s clan. Alexandra and Winston did a tour of France
before returning to work on various research projects with Northwestern University.
This whole time, from 1986 till the present, I’ve stayed in Chicago with no intent on
leaving. This is the city I haunt. I’m amongst the throngs listening to concerts at the Jay Pritzker
Pavilion in Millennium Park. I take a blanket and sit on the ground watching the life that
surrounds me. Children laughing, parents talking about their day, lovers kissing and holding each
other under the moonlit night sky, and I sit about and take in the life force lingering in the air. I
even watch the tourists snapping photos near the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
I’ve spent many nights in Lincoln Park watching the diners savor their fine French
cuisine at Ambria. It’s dark wood walls, leather upholstery, and crisp white linen tablecloths
always seem so elegant and inviting. I enjoyed watching the lover’s walk in together, hand-inhand, or the gold diggers luring men in with promises in exchange for a luxurious night out in
the city.
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And I can’t forget Museum Campus where I spent most of my evenings - the Adler
Planetarium, The Shedd Aquarium, and my beloved Field Museum. These places were like
second homes to me. I know them like the back of my hand. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the
countless anonymous gifts I have made to each facility.
I use to sit in the back row in the Sky Theater at the Adler and look up at the images of
the night sky as they played out on the ceiling. They would talk about comets that haven’t been
seen in hundreds of years and I could sit there and describe their every detail as if they had only
graced the night sky yesterday.
They have a collection of rare books on display at the Adler and I was once very fond of
looking at them in their glass cages. I remembered reading some of them as a child. And here
these volumes sat caged in glass homes and on display as treasures of a forgotten time.
As spectacular as those false night skies and dusty volumes at the Adler were, I much
more enjoyed sneaking into the Shedd Aquarium after it closed for the night. The absence of
luminescent lighting let the light from the water filled aquariums created playful shadows on the
walls, ceilings, and floors. It was like being under water and surrounded with the most beautiful
and delicate specimens of the Ocean’s deep blue waters.
I spent nights listening to the Beluga Whales sing. They are known as the “canaries of the
sea” and their song is mysterious and intoxicating. I would watch the freshwater stingray float by
in their tanks, the giant river turtles slowly creep along the dirt in their habitats, and watch as the
rockhopper penguins hopped along merrily.
But, the bulk of my time, the real essence of what Chicago meant to me, was summed up
while sitting amongst the antiquities in the Field Museum. I was there when they were
assembling Sue – the best preserved, largest, and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex in the
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world. I have memorized the faces of the Lions of Tsavo. I have admired the sparkling gems in
the Grainger Hall of Gems and have adored the carved jade masterpieces on display in the Hall
of Jades.
If my presence, my mysterious shadowy figure was ever seen roaming the galleries of the
Field, I may have adopted the nickname “phantom of the museum.” But, I was always very
cautious. Even during evening Galas, when the whole of Chicago seemed to be there, I could slip
in and out without a single person noticing.
Once in awhile, when I was in a particularly festive mood, I would strike up a
conversation with an unsuspecting mortal perusing the galleries finest treasures. “Do you like
that particular piece?” I would ask. Or, perhaps, “That’s Mayan, isn’t it smashing?” I would feel
the tension of their quickening heartbeats as I pulled myself from the shadows to break the
silence of the room. Some nights, and not very often I must note - I would sample their essences,
lingering in the memories the blood showed me, and I would relish in their perfect humanness.
I had stopped frequenting the Gala Events for some time. I guess I just became too caught
up in the snobbish atmosphere of those parties and after a while, it became old, as does most
everything when you’ve lived as long as I have. Then, one evening, not too long ago, I spotted
the lights of the museum all aglow after hours, the limousines lined along the street, and the
elegant blue-bloods wrapped in furs and stiletto heels making their ways up the front steps of the
museum. And, for some reason, I was drawn to the party. Drawn like a moth to a flame.
It was a winter fundraiser. Champaign was flowing like Niagara Falls and diamonds
sparkled on the necks of Chicago’s wealthiest women. That was when I saw him, lighting up the
room with his broad and handsome smile. Amongst all the glitz and glam he stood out as if a
spotlight were on him and the rest of the room was veiled in darkness. He was my descent into
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madness, the one I was meant for.
Chapter Fifteen
He was a towering 6 feet tall, with dark, chocolate brown, thick, wavy hair. His eyes
were a perfect grayish-blue, soft yet strong and un-breaking in their stare. And when he smiled,
which was often, he formed adorable dimples in his cheeks. Looking at him was like looking at a
fine masterpiece of intricately chiseled perfection.
He seemed shy yet approachable and, after I got to know him, he proved rather outgoing.
He had this well-developed sense of humor. It was sarcastic yet sweet at the same time. When I
looked at him the entire world stood still and time ceased to exist. He inspired me to do more,
see more and be more than I could’ve ever dreamt being. All these years, these centuries laid
upon each other like dusty volumes in a library storage room, and now it seemed like this was
the one I had been looking for my entire existence.
Now, some would argue that there is no “true love,” that anyone can find love in almost
every person, and I must agree with this theory. I for one have had many loves over the years but
one cannot deny that some loves are just more compatible and pleasing on the palate. But
nevertheless, he was as close to “true love” that I had ever discovered.
When I looked at him for the first time I was frozen, completely unable to move. I
lingered in-between realities as if in limbo. Every ounce of instinct in me seemed to dissipate.
Every memory of the “other men in my life” was but faded pictures in my mind. I only saw him
and, unfortunately, I still do. This is why I can’t move on. This is why I spend my nights by his
bedside, holding his hand and watching the rate of his heart and respiration rise and fall on the
tiny monitors. This is why life as I know it has ended.
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But, let me explain before I get ahead of myself. Let me tell you one last story, dear
readers. One last romantic tale weaved into an intricate drama. Let me put his name down now,
in this book, in this history of my life, so that all will know how I feel and why I must do what
must be done.
As I was saying before, it was a winter gala amongst sparkling diamonds and flutes of
exorbitant Champaign, that I first laid sights on his handsome figure. As cliché as it sounds, he
took my breath away. I was transfixed. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
He was wearing a black Perry Ellis tux with a notch lapel and box pleat with a
periwinkle-grayish vest and matching tie, which brought out the sparkle in his eyes. In his left
hand was a flute of Champaign, a single strawberry floating near the bottom of the glass, and his
right was brushing back a stray hair from his forehead. He was laughing at an undeserving joke
being told by some plump little women and her equally plump husband. And his eyes, although
soft and subtle, could pierce through glass.
I watched him for hours that evening as he mingled, going from one boring joke to
another dry story about someone’s summer vacation. He never appeared pompous or unsure of
himself, never unkind, and always sincere. Every moment spent gazing at him from afar only
made me want him more.
I watched him dancing with the Mayor’s wife, dipping her at the appropriate times. Her
thoughts were open and clear. He made her feel like a woman, a wanted woman - a woman who
was craved and lusted for. And she found great pleasure in being held by this man who whirled
her around the dance floor as if she were a delicate glass figurine.
I loved listening to his thick British accent as he spoke about civil matters with the many
Aldermen in attendance. Finally a British man with a thick accent to lure me into a peaceful
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slumber, I had thought with a coy smile on my face.
I was so torn when I had to leave the party. I feared never seeing him again. And, at the
same time, I feared seeing him again. I feared falling in love, loosing myself to someone else,
giving up control. And, as much as it terrified me to do so, I really wanted to know him. I wanted
to be with him and to love him and to have him love me in return.
So, I began to leave as quietly as I came. I thought I would search for him after I had
processed all this in my head. And then the oddest thing occurred – he approached me. I, who
was hidden in the shadows, was pulled out by the allure of this man and his magnetic power over
me. His voice called to me and I could do nothing but respond.
The night air had been frigid as we stood on the front steps of the museum. The night sky
had been perfectly clear and the stars and the moonlight were reflecting romantically on the
freshly fallen carpet of snow. All around us people wrapped in lavish fur coats and others in
wool and tweed caps rushed to awaiting taxis, limousines, and cars. Yet, we stood still. I was
suspended on the steps by the mystery in his voice.
“Are you just going to run off then?” he asked.
I was paralyzed and unsure of what to say. Slowly, I turned to face him and that’s when
he had me. I looked into his eyes and was powerless to fight these feelings any longer.
“Well, it does seem the party has run its course. Everyone else is leaving, I guess I too
should take my leave,” I answered.
“Do you always do what everyone else does then?” he inquired playfully.
“Of course not.”
He took three steps forward and I took one back.
“I’m not going to bite you,” he laughed.
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“Yes, but I might bite you,” I replied to which he laughed some more.
By now the crowd had begun to dissipate and only stragglers remained waiting for their
“My name is Wesley Ravensdale,” he said as he extended his hand.
“That’s an old name. I haven’t heard of Ravensdale’s for some time now,” I offered him
my hand in return. “My name is Bree.”
“Yes, it is an old name, but I like it,” he said, laughing softly. “What did you find so
interesting?” he asked in a rather serious tone.
“Excuse me?” I replied. His question through me off guard and I was hesitant to answer.
“In the museum. You’ve been watching me all night,” he answered. “There’s no use
denying it. I felt your eyes on me. Every step I took, you were there watching me.”
What could I say? Never before had a mortal sensed my presence when I concealed
myself from them. Never before had my image been drawn out of the shadows like this.
“Is it a crime to watch?” I asked in that demure-little-girl voice that I was a master at
“I believe voyeurism is, actually,” he replied with this matter-of-fact, old English
schoolmaster tone to his voice.
“I don’t believe my mere admiring you from across a crowded museum can be defined as
voyeurism,” I stated. “Perhaps stalking, but not voyeurism.”
He laughed as a fresh blanket of snow fell gracefully to the ground softening his features
as the flakes gathered subtly on his shoulders.
“Nevertheless, you were watching me. Admit it,” he smiled.
“Well, of course I was watching you. You are a rather interesting person, Mr. Winston
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“Am I now?” he asked.
“Yes, you are,” I teased.
“Would you like to grab a cup of coffee with me? It will warm you up,” he asked rather
gentlemanly. “I know a little diner just down the street. They are open 24 hours.”
“Sadly, I must decline. I don’t…do coffee,” I answered.
“Are you sure I can’t persuade you?” he asked eagerly.
“I’m afraid not. It’s getting late and I really should turn in for the night.”
“Then, Bewitching Bree, allow me to give you my card incase you want to ‘admire’ me
some other time. Thursdays are a great day for ‘admiring’ me because I wear my gray wool suit
with pinstripe tie,” he laughed.
He handed me his card, which I pretended to glance at. I shoved the smooth cardstock
calling card in my coat pocket and watched as he effortlessly hailed a cab.
“It’s been a pleasure meeting you,” he called out to me as he opened the cab door.
“You too,” I answered, half stunned.
I watched as his cab took off, driving its way into the busy late-night Chicago traffic. I
could see his smile through the back window as he watched me slip away.
Nights went by and I could think of nothing but him. His face lingered in my dreams. His
thick voice followed me everywhere. I couldn’t hunt. I couldn’t even play games or watch
television. I took pleasure only in thinking of him. Yet, the card he had given me remained in my
coat pocket. I never really looked at it. Perhaps, I was being restrained for I knew if I looked at
his information I would know how to find him and then the temptation would be overwhelming.
A heavy snowfall came down on Chicago a few nights later. The snowplows, burdened
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with the weight of over paid and under qualified union workers, struggled to keep up with the
many accumulating inches. The weatherman was saying things like “white out” and
“temperatures are dangerously below zero.” It was by far the worst winter storm I had seen in
centuries. We kept each other company in front of the fire. No one in his or her right mind was
out on the town in this weather. And, as Aleksandra joked, “who wants crazy blood running
through their veins.”
I was reading from Yeats’s The Green Helmet and Other Poems. It was a weathered
original copy from 1910. I had an extensive collection of Yeats’s poetry and I treasured every
syllable of every line in each of his poems. On this particular night, as the fire crackled among us
and the snow fell chaotically outside, I chose to read The Coming of Wisdom with Time. It was
one of Aleksandra’s favorites, although she preferred Whitman to Yeat’s.
“ ‘Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth, I
swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth,’” I read softly.
My voice gently bounced about the room. I closed the book softly and laid it on my lap as
I watched the flames lick the fireplace walls.
“I wish I could ‘wither into the truth,’” Winston whispered from the solitude of his
armchair. He was tucked away, in the shadows, to the left of the fireplace. The leather of the
chair creaked as he shifted his weight and allowed his leg to fall causing a tap on the floor from
his boot.
“But what is ‘the truth,’ Winston? That is the question,” Aleksandra chimed in as she got
comfortable on my old, weathered green settee.
“Whatever comes after this world, I guess. Heaven. Hell,” I replied softly.
“It would be nice to know where you are going and then to actually one day go there. To
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finally rest and know that this whole mess of existence is over,” Winston mused.
“One could summarize our existence with one word: insomnia. It’s like we can never
shut down. We watch as generation upon generation slips away. We watched as the world
changed from a simple place of solitude and reflection, where you knew your neighbors and
people were genuine, and it’s turned into this vile brothel of corrupt politicians, child
pornography, where no one tells the truth. We have mass communication, you can reach out and
touch anyone anywhere at any time and yet, the message of hope, love, light, and kinship is
muted behind the thick and smelly fog of hatred and deceit, and we are left with an empty feeling
of loneliness. It’s sad what this world has become. It would be comforting to turn it all off, for
good,” I commented.
There was silence for a while. We all just sat quiet and still and unmovable. After a while
I opened my book and resumed reading only this time quietly to myself. Several poems later, the
sound of Aleksandra’s voice broke the calming silence.
“Then what makes us not end it all right now? What makes us resist stepping into the sun
and finding out what really lies in the next life, if there is a next life?” she asked.
“Fear,” replied Winston. “Raw fear of the unknown, my dear.”
“Yes, fear, Aleksandra,” I chimed in. “The fear of going to hell, of burning in the fires for
eternity, it’s what keeps me from ending this existence for myself.”
“I don’t fear what you fear,” she replied coldly.
“Oh?” Winston perked up in his chair.
“Why fear something that’s inevitable. One of these days, life is going to get too
depressing to keep trudging along like we are now. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I
kind of feel, sometimes, that we are just running from the truth. And then I wonder, why are we
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still running?”
“Because we are programmed to run, to survive. It’s in our blood. It’s our curse,
Aleksandra,” I replied.
“And there’s love, my wife,” Winston joined in. “I could never go into the sun knowing
you were still here because I love you too much to endure any existence that didn’t have you in
“But, what would happen if you lost me?” asked Aleksandra.
“Then, my love, I would jump into the sun and burn into a million pieces and hope that
the wind spreads my ashes to you with much haste.”
She stood from the settee and walked over to embrace him. They kissed gently, as they
always did, with much passion and even more patience.
“Good night, Bree,” Winston said as they left the room.
Moments later I could hear the shutting of their bedroom door and the rest I chose to tune
Seeing them like that made me yearn for love again. It made me ache for someone I could
talk to you, share with, enjoy, and learn from. Yet, I was so afraid of the kind of love I so wanted
and truly needed. Then I remembered the gentleman on the museum steps. How his eyes held my
attention. How his smile was warm and exotic, yet familiar and comforting. How he made me
feel like home – made me feel like I was on the streets of London back before the blood curse
was given to me. He elicited a nostalgic feeling in me that had been dormant for far too long.
And he captivated me like nothing else had ever captivated me before.
I stood and placed my book on the chair, it’s feeble cover wanting to crumble as it met
with the chair fabric. I walked out into the hallway and opened the hall closet. The smell of cedar
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overwhelmed me as the door creaked. There hung my coat, the coat I had worn the evening I had
met him, and from its pocket I pulled his calling card.
It was rectangular, like most business cards, and was a creamy ivory color. In and
antiqued looking print his name was spelled out with a rich hunter green ink – Dr. Wesley
Ravensdale Ph. D. The letters were slightly risen from the page and I could feel them as I ran my
fingers across the card. In a smaller print, and in dignified black ink, was his title – Professor of
Literature and Poetry, The University of Chicago, along with his phone number. Knowing he
taught Literature and Poetry made me blush like a schoolgirl. How proper, I thought, how indeed
right for me.
Three more nights passed by as I struggled with the decision on whether to call him or
not. The snow had been cleared from the streets and the news reported that classes at The
University of Chicago had resumed. The idea of lingering in the shadows of his classroom,
listening to him teach, watching him move about the room with the passion of a teacher
passionate about his subject matter, tempted me to the point of insanity. Finally, I could hold off
no longer. The allure was just too much.
I went to him. I went to the University looking for him. It was night, of course, and much
of the campus was deserted except for the few stragglers entering or exiting the library. I
watched the students bundled in their parkas and scarves, their exhausted faces yawning as they
entered the library. Their footsteps were making lovely crunching sounds in the snow and the hot
breath escaping their mouths produced vapor as it collided with the cool winter air.
One young lady, overburdened with books, came out of the library in a hurry and slid on
a patch of frozen ice near the top of the steps. Her books flew about; papers scattered everywhere
as she flew backwards, her arms struggling to brace the fall.
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“Let me help you,” I called out as I rushed to her side.
“Oh, thanks!” she replied as she fumbled to her knees and began gathering the scattered
papers into a pile. “Man, this bites! I just finished this paper now the pages are soaked. I’ll have
to reprint it!”
I went about gathering her books and brushing the snow off the covers. Analytical
Algebra… Anatomy and Physiology…Microbiology. All hard covered with place markers
sticking out from various pages. Then I came upon a rather interesting book. It was smaller than
the other yet just as thick. Irish Poetry Second Edition.
“You’re taking Irish Poetry?” I asked as I handed the books into her waiting arms.
“Oh, yeah, electives are a bummer but ya need ‘em to graduate, I guess,” she laughed.
“Do you like the class?” I asked.
“It’s not too bad. It’s like only twice a week so it’s not a total waste of my week. But, the
professor can be a real stickler for details sometimes. He’s just way too passionate about this
crap, ya know the kind?”
“Yes, I do,” I laughed softly. “Who’s the teacher?”
“Um, Ravensdale. He’s not too bad on the eyes so his class isn’t a total waste, I guess.”
“No, he isn’t hard on the eyes is he?” I laughed.
“You teach here too?” she asked as she shifted the weight of the books to her other arm.
“No, I’m more of a friend of his,” I replied.
“You know Dr. Ravensdale!” She blushed. “I’m so embarrassed.”
“Oh, don’t bother.”
“If you’re going to see him I can walk with you. I have to turn in this paper I’d been
working on. It’s a little…over due.”
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“Sure, I would love to,” I replied. “Lead the way.”
“He practically lives here during the week. Not too many professors keep office hours
this late into the night. Guess the trip into the suburbs can be rather lonely. I don’t blame him
really, my parents live in the suburbs and I hate driving out of the city to see them all the time. I
usually make excuses, but sometimes that home cooked meal draws me south.” She rambled on
and on in this manner until we reached what appeared to be the English Department.
We walked down some stairs, around some corners, and eventually ended up at the end
of a long hallway lined in offices. On one of these doors read the name “Dr. Wesley
Ravensdale.” A small light shone through the glass and I could make out a figure hunched over a
desk typing on a keyboard.
She knocked on the door and his voice sang back, “Come in.”
I stood away from the door so he couldn’t see me from where he was sitting. My anxiety
began to bubble over.
“Hey Dr. Ravensdale, I have that paper for you.” She entered the room, laid her books on
a chair, and began ruffling through her stack of papers. Finally she handed him a rather thick
document stapled in the upper left-hand corner. “Sorry it’s a little damp. I slipped on my way out
of the library.”
“It’s alright, Ms. Marion,” he replied in his thick English accent. The words dripped from
his mouth like chocolate, smooth and delicious. “Of course, I will be deducting ten points from
the final grade because it was late.”
“Yeah, I know,” she responded with a hint of disappointment in her voice. She began
leaving the room and then saw me standing there in the shadows. “But, don’t I get credit for
bringing your friend to you? I figure that’s at least worth five points,” she laughed.
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“Excuse me?” He perked up with interest.
I stepped out from the shadows and entered his office. The look on his face was priceless.
It was as if we had been childhood friends separated by life’s pathways and then, after an
arduous search, found each other at last.
“Well, this is surely a surprise,” he managed to say. “I guess I’ll over look your tardiness
this one time, Ms. Marion.”
“Thanks!” she called out as she left the room. I could hear her footsteps becoming fainter
and fainter as she walked away.
He had risen and moved over to a small fireplace, its raging fire casting an alluring glow
on his manly physique. He was wearing a pair of faded jeans but it wasn’t faded from wear,
instead it was one of those washes newer jeans come in to make them look aged and worn. They
looked smashing with his pumpkin colored turtleneck. He looked all warm and cozy just like a
big teddy bear.
“Beautiful Bree, you’ve found me?” he asked as he stared at me with those mesmerizing
eyes that seemed to search my soul every time he looked at me.
“I have,” I replied softly. “And you teach Irish Poetry, of all things.”
“Do you like Irish poetry, Bree?” he asked as he came towards me and shut the office
“I love Irish poetry,” I responded like a little schoolgirl with some silly crush on her
“ ‘When I had laid it on the floor, I went to blow the fire aflame, But something rustled
on the floor; And some one called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl, With apple
blossom in her hair, Who called me by my name and ran, And faded through the brightening
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“Yeat’s, I love Yeat’s,” I said as he embraced me in his strong arms. “If you read me
Yeat’s you’ll capture my heart for sure.”
“Good, because you’ve already captured mine and I don’t even know you,” he whispered.
We sat down in opposite chairs across from his desk. They were dark mahogany leather
chairs, very comfortable and stately.
“You’re very mysterious, Bree,” he stated.
“How so?”
“Well, I’ve looked you up – or at least I’ve tried to look you up. There is no phone
number listed or an address for you. Actually, it’s as if you don’t even exist.”
“Maybe I don’t,” I said playfully. “Perhaps I’m merely a figment of your imagination.”
“Well, then I must have a damned good imagination to conjure up something as gorgeous
as you.” He leaned back in his chair allowing his arms to rest on the large armrests and his hands
dangle over the sides.
“Maybe I’m a dream.” I continued to play with him.
“If you are a dream, then I never want to wake up.”
“So, how long have you taught Yeat’s, Professor?” I asked.
“Oh, well, it must be over fifteen years now. I spent three years living between Dublin
and Sligo working on my doctoral dissertation,” he replied.
“That must’ve been exciting. What was your dissertation on?”
“Specifically?” he asked. “Well, I focused mainly on his volume, The Celtic Midnight,
and how the rhythm of the poetry evoked a dream-like, ethereal state of mind.”
“I would love to read your dissertation sometime.”
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“Well, I’m sure the library has a copy of it. Of course, its probably covered in dust on
some back shelf hidden away from the public,” he laughed softly.
“Do you ever go back to Ireland?” I asked.
“I try to make it there every summer, assuming I don’t get stuck teaching a summer
seminar,” he replied.
“It must be nice.”
“Yes, it is. I own a cottage in Sligo. It’s not much, but it suits me. I had hand crafted
built-in bookcases built when I purchased the property so now it resembles a small library. Most
of my collection – some of which are rather old – reside there collecting dust,” he said fondly.
“I had a vast library myself once,” I mentioned.
“Yes. It was grand. There were more books than one person could read in a lifetime and
they were all mine,” I replied nostalgically
“Do you still own the collection?”
“No, oh no. I wish,” I replied melancholy.
“What happened to it?” he asked. “I mean, why would you ever relinquish a collection
like that?”
“Something’s aren’t meant to be kept by one person. You know?” I replied. “All that
wisdom and beauty, all those fragile pages, they didn’t belong to me and it was wrong for me to
ever claim them as my own. No, I gave them to some libraries and museums, scattered them like
the winds, so that humanity could enjoy them for years to come.”
“That was very noble of you,” he replied.
“Perhaps,” I smiled.
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The snow was coming down thick outside. The windows were fogging up. The fire
crackled and snapped and filled the air with a sweet mellow aroma.
“I’m afraid I can’t stay long tonight,” I said breaking the silence.
“You just got here,” he replied in a voice one would expect from a child whose toy had
been taken away.
“I know our meeting tonight has been short, but I have things to attend to and
unfortunately they can’t wait.”
The truth of the matter was that his blood was intoxicating me, making me forget what I
was. I was slowly becoming the monster, letting my Mr. Hyde show through. I could not allow
that to happen. He was too beautiful; too precious.
I stood to leave and he jumped to my side. “If you must go then you must go,” he said
sweetly. “But I must see you again, Bree.”
“Tomorrow night?” I asked.
“I am free tomorrow night,” he replied.
“Then let’s meet at Navy Pier around eight o’clock. Meet me in the gardens. I will find
“Until tomorrow night then,” he replied kissing my hand as I opened the door to leave.
“Until then,” I whispered softly.
I slowly left the building, my feet like lead weights. I kicked at the settling inches of
snow on the ground and admired the way the flakes scattered about. It was coming down hard
now; a mere human would have a difficult time seeing through the white. I continued to walk
through the campus and onto the busy streets. The city seemed so deserted, empty and vast. It
was still and quiet.
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I’m not sure how long I walked that night but when I returned home, my garments were
soaked from the snow and I was frozen stiff. I redressed in some velour jump suit, a tacky
fuchsia color, but it was warm, and made my way to the fireplace in the Study. A raging fire was
growing with this intensity and passion and I found it very comforting.
I sat there, in the Study, watching the fire rage away, the flames licking at each other
playfully. I thought of him. I thought of his gorgeous eyes, which spoke volumes, and of his
smile, which was the warmest I had ever witnessed.
Above all, his passion for Yeat’s, his quoting of Yeat’s captured me in disbelief. It was if
he had been sent to me. As if he had been tailor made just for me. He just fit me.
I let my headrest on a pillow and my legs stretch out on the couch. Time slipped by
slowly as I thought of him and only him.
I would have spent the rest of the night lying on the couch reminiscing about my
conversation with him but my lingering was cut short by Aleksandra’s entrance into the room.
She was wearing a tweed pantsuit with a crisp gray shirt. Her hair was loose and flowing.
“Am I interrupting your solitude?” she asked politely as she came into the room.
“No, of course not,” I replied as I sat up making room for her on the couch.
She plopped down and grabbed a throw pillow, which she thrust into her lap, and then
crossed her legs and directed her attention my way.
“You look different,” she stated.
“Different? How so?” I asked.
“I’m not sure but there is this glow about you,” she grinned.
“It’s the fire,” I said.
“I don’t think it’s the fire,” she teased. “Who is he?”
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“There is no one. Now leave it alone,” I replied.
“Who is he?” she prodded.
“There is no one! Now stop being so nosy.”
“Stop being nosy? Yeah, right,” she chuckled. “I need something to live for, after all,”
she stated calmly.
“Oh, Aleksandra, I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t even know if I want to begin.
If I acknowledge that there’s something there then it makes it more real…more concrete. I’m just
not sure if I’m ready for that,” I replied.
“Not ready for something more concrete?” she asked. “More concrete than what?”
I sat there keeping my thoughts to myself. I was flustered and I couldn’t even voice my
thoughts because I couldn’t fully form them or organize them. I hated being so scatter brained
and disorganized. I hated feeling so foreign in my own mind.
“Look, I have no clue who he is or what he means to you, but I do know how regret can
eat at you like an open and festering wound. Don’t just sit here by the fire every night wondering
whether it could have been something magical. Don’t sit here idling and bidding your time while
the hands of time tick on for him and he ages. You know very well how quickly time can pass
for us. It can fly by and feel like only minutes when, in reality, years have passed away. Please
don’t find yourself wanting more when it’s already too late. You have enough regret hanging on
your shoulders. Your heart is burdened with more than enough pain and sorrow. Let it all go and
experience something good for once. Please.”
I thought about her words for a few minutes. They struck me in a way nothing else could
and I began to cry. Softly and quietly the tears fell down my cheeks.
“I find myself lost in his presence, Aleksandra,” I said gently. “There’s something in him,
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deep down and hidden away, that just draws me in like nothing else could.”
“I know what you mean,” she replied. “That is how I felt with Winston; like in him there
was this secret and I so desperately needed to know that secret in order to survive.”
“Exactly,” I answered.
“Are you going to pursue him?” she asked.
“I want to,” I replied. “Oh, I so want to.”
“Then why don’t you?” she asked rather bluntly.
“What kind of future can I offer him? I can’t give him children. I can’t age gracefully
with him,” I said sarcastically. “I went down this path with your father, Aleksandra, and you
know how that turned out. It took centuries to get over him. I’m just not sure I can put myself
through that again.”
“You can give him a future of love and respect. It’s very common for women in this day
and age to not have children. Plus, he may not even want children. And, I know my father’s
passing left a large hole in your heart, but it’s time to be getting back in the game. You rejoined
life when you woke from your sleep and now it’s time to really rejoin life and confront your
fears of another relationship.”
“And what happens in five or ten years when his hair has gone gray and his face
wrinkles, yet I remain unchanged?” I asked.
“You could be honest with him from the start,” she commented.
“Honest? Have you gone mad?” I asked, startled by her glib statement.
“No, I have not gone mad,” she responded with an annoyed tone in her voice. “Tell him
what you are and how you survive and then, if he wants to be in your world and he knows what it
means, invite him in. If not, kill him.”
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“You can be so cold sometimes, do you know this?” I stated firmly. “I could never kill
“Don’t be stupid,” she said.
“I’m not being stupid, I’m being honest,” I said. “I could never kill him, it would be like
killing myself.”
“So, then, what are you going to do?” she asked.
I rose and stood by the tall windows. The snow was beginning to taper off and I could see
the blur of traffic once again gracing the streets below. The night seemed to have suddenly
become alive again.
“I haven’t decided,” I responded. “We are meeting tomorrow evening. I really should
make up my mind by then.”
“Well, mother, get some rest and clear your head,” she said as she came to place her
gentle hand on my shoulder. “When you see him, you’ll know what to do.”
Chapter Sixteen
He was waiting for me in the Crystal Gardens amongst the palm trees and exotic flowers,
the leapfrog fountains dancing in front of him playfully. The music from the carousel outside
was reminiscent of an old childrens tune that I had heard back at the turn of the century but the
name escapes me now. The monumental Chicago skyline behind him took my breath away.
The air was crisp and breezy coming off the lake but in this glass garden, it was warm
and cozy. Shoppers mingled with tourists as the flow of traffic moved from plant to plant, and to
store to store. The movie lines were long with anticipation as were the restaurants just off the
Garden’s entrance.
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I watched him as he casually glanced at his watch. He looked so harmless, so comfortable
and cozy in a pair of coffee colored corduroys and a creamy Irish knot sweater. I wanted to wrap
my arms around him, embrace him tightly, and warm my cold skin with his warm essence. The
lust and the excitement grew in me as I watched him from afar. I could feel and taste his
deliciousness and I wasn’t even within twenty feet of him. Remembering him like this, happy
and thriving, makes me want to drop my pen and end the story right here. Remembering him like
this is very painful, but it needs to be told.
As always, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. The holiday shoppers busily hustled past
me momentarily obscuring my view of him. It was like those movies where two star-crossed
lovers see each other from across a crowded room. They remain motionless as the rest of the
room rushes past. Everyone else became a blur to me as I watched him. They whizzed by me like
a hurried cloud of mixed colors and the only thing remaining constant and unmoving was
Walking across that crowded garden seemed to take forever. It was if my feet were lead.
But when he noticed me coming, then time stood still.
“Bree,” he said in a half whisper.
“Shh,” I replied as I embraced him and kissed him passionately on his soft lips.
And so it began - a love affair to end all love affairs. Endless conversations about poetry,
life, love, and philosophy, as we sat by the fire. I allowed myself to be somewhat foolish again; I
let my guard down. I opened up for the possibility that I could get hurt and it felt so liberating.
For over a year we were together and it was heaven. Our love was based on more than
lust and passion; it was based on intellect and common interests. On his birthday I surprised him
with a first edition signed copy of The Celtic Midnight. He treasured it and even created a special
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humidity controlled display for it in his office. The satisfaction, the joy that old dusty volume
gave him fulfilled so many gaping holes within me that I would have gladly given him a
thousand more copies if only I had them.
I sat in on every one of his evening seminars. His enthusiasm for Yeat’s, and for teaching
as a whole, was breathtaking to watch. He reminded me of Jeremy Brett portraying Sherlock
Holmes. He had this youthful vigor and it affected so many students. I could see these little lights
kindle themselves as the students participated in his seminars. He created a love of poetry that
was infectious and incurable.
I know, as you’re sitting here reading this, you’re thinking “did she ever tell him?” The
answer, of course, is yes. Once I was with him, there was no lying to him.
It was about eight months into our relationship when I finally told him the truth about
what I was. At first, he didn’t believe me. At first, he thought I was in a cult. I was actually a
little worried he was going to turn me into Oprah or some kind of self-help program for mind
deprogramming. He went as far as buying me several books on vampire sub cults and the like.
But when I proved him wrong, when I hunted in his presence, then he began to believe me.
I assured him I would never feed from him and he trusted me. He knew I could never do
that to him. And so after an adjustment period, the monster in me began to grow on him. Really,
in all, it didn’t change our relationship one bit. It did put any thoughts of marriage and children
into perspective but then again, even that didn’t seem to bother him much. I think we were just
enjoying being with each other and not focusing so much on where it was going.
This existence, this unending nighttime was filled with spectacular fireworks and
brilliantly bright stars, and I was happy. I was truly happy. I had found my Winston. I had found
my other half. I had actually managed to find someone else who honestly completed me in every
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single way. And I really thought it would last forever. I guess I was being foolish because
nothing good ever lasts forever, does it? Only pain and emptiness lasts forever. Only regret
lingers when everything good is gone. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. It’s so easy to do
when you’re caught up in emotion, as I am.
It was nearing Thanksgiving when it happened, when the flame that fed my fire dimmed
into a tiny shadow. I wasn’t prepared for it. No one could’ve prepared for such a devastating
He was driving on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Traffic was speeding along smoothly
despite the pounding rain beating against the asphalt. He was listening to talk radio, arguing with
the host, like he always did.
Suddenly the rainfall grew stronger causing him to slow his speed. Unfortunately, the
heavy droplets obscured the semi driver’s vision behind him and then man never saw Wesley’s
brake lights. The guy rear-ended Wesley’s tiny Volvo and smashed him into another car. After
the rains calmed, the scene was indescribable. Wesley’s Volvo was folded like a tin can; the air
bag hid him from sight. The other car, which was carrying a young mother and her two delicate
little children, had been pushed into a side rail. The mother was unharmed but the grim sight of
her children scrunched against the back seat screaming for help was horrid. One of the children,
a three-year-old girl, was dead before she ever reached the hospital. The trucker was in shock but
otherwise, he recovered quickly.
Wesley wasn’t lucky at all. He had suffered several contusions and began bleeding
internally. By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he was unconscious. For the first
four days he would slip in and out of a coma. Multiple operations were performed and just when
things were improving, a blot clot formed in his brain. He has been in a vegetative state ever
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since. A machine breathes for him now. Tubes run to and from his body putting in vital fluids
and taking away the waste they produce. His face is pale and lifeless. His heartbeat seems
I sit by his side every night, without fail. I have been doing so since that night I had
awoken to see the flashing light on our answering machine. It’d been the hospital. They had
found my number in his wallet and knew of no one else to call. I couldn’t move when I heard
those words run off the tape, “…car accident. He has severe injuries. Please, come right away.” I
had become frozen to the ground, completely unmovable.
Winston had spotted me in the hallway hovering over the telephone, my face buried in
my hands. He had seen the flashing red light. He had hit the play button and had heard the
message himself. Somehow, and I don’t remember how, he got me to that hospital. I was still in
shock when I realized I was standing by Wesley’s bed.
Every night since I’ve held his hand and I’ve talked to him. I’ve read him Yeat’s and
other bits of poetry. The doctors have told me several times that his chances of waking up are
slim to none and that even if he did; he would suffer permanent brain damage. There was talk of
pulling the plug, ending his life, but I could never let them do it. I couldn’t let go because I so
badly didn’t want to let go of him.
I couldn’t say farewell to yet another lover. I couldn’t pretend that he had never existed.
Nor could I endure the suffering of his passing and my living on without him in this world.
For months he’s lingered in that bed wrapped comfortably in those sterile white hospital
sheets. There has been no response to my words or my touches. There is no response to the
doctors’ tests or the nurses changing his feeding tube. His eyes remain closed and his face
relaxed and he is in no pain. He does not suffer.
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I’ve read his thoughts on several occasions. He dreams all the time. Happy dreams full of
love and promise. It’s almost as if he is now living in a dream world that he believes is true
existence. And perhaps this is best for him. Perhaps, he is in a safe world where creatures like
my kind can not harm him. I don’t know for sure. All I do know is he seems to be at peace and
that offers me at least some measure of solace.
He’s had many visitors since the accident. They come almost on a nightly basis. His
colleagues have all come to offer their support and condolences as if he were already passed
from this life. They bring large bouquets of fragrant flowers, balloons, even teddy bears, as if he
can see them and enjoy them. It almost feels like a funeral is being held whenever someone
comes to visit him.
One night, about a week ago, a young girl came into the room with a gentle knock. It was
late, around 8:00 PM, and visiting hours were coming to a close. I watched from the shadows of
the room, where I usually sit so that I can veil my tears from the nurses. She sat a beautiful vase
of snow-white gardenias on his bedside table and then fiddled with the yellow bow to make it
straight. They were very large and aromatic. Their presence almost lit up the dim room.
I watched as she knelt down and awkwardly touched his forehead. Her hands were a little
shaky and her eyes already filled with tears.
“Did you know him?” I asked as I emerged from the shadows.
She jumped back a step and looked up at me, her hand quickly reaching to wipe the tears
from her eyes.
“Sorry if I startled you,” I said as I took the seat next to him on his right. I took his hand
into mine and stroked it fondly.
“Um, nah I’m fine. I was just leaving,” she began leaving the room looking rather
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embarrassed as if she had interrupted something.
“No, please don’t leave. Not yet,” I encouraged. “It gets rather lonely here at night, sitting
all by myself. I would really enjoy the company – even if it’s only for a little while.”
“If you’re sure you don’t mind?” she asked as she sat down in one of those hard and
uncomfortable standard issue hospital chairs. They look nice until you sit in them for awhile,
then everything begins to hurt. I found it odd that they can justify charging some insurance less
sap two hundred dollars for a Band-Aid in the Emergency Room but they can’t spring for some
decent chairs for their patient’s hospital rooms.
“So, how do you know,” I began before she cut me off.
“I was a student of his two semesters ago. Then I was one of his teacher assistants for a
semester before taking his advice and studying abroad. I just returned yesterday and I heard the
terrible news. I wanted to come and… pay my respects. You know?”
“Yes, I know,” I replied.
“I waslooking forward to coming home and sharing my experience in Ireland with him.
He had been very excited for me when my application got approved. He even helped fund my
trip since my student loan wouldn’t cover all of it.”
“He is a very generous man,” I replied.
“Yeah,” she answered. “He was inspirational. I had been majoring in Mathematics until I
was forced to take his class as an elective. There was just something about the way he expressed
his devotion to poetry and literature; it made me do some serious thinking. Eventually, I changed
my major. I’ve never looked back.”
“I’m sure he knows how much he’s touched your life,” I replied.
“Oh, I hope he does,” she whispered. “He was a great mentor and friend,” she began. “No
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one else, besides him, knows this but, before I left for Ireland I found out I was pregnant. Oh, I
was terrified. I thought the world was over, my life gone, and Ireland all but a dream. He
changed all that for me. He arranged for a childless couple on the north side to adopt her. They
are very wealthy and can give her more than I could ever provide. It was difficult for me to hand
her over but he helped me see that it was for the best. When I boarded that airplane I put that
situation behind me. I devoted myself to my studies in Ireland. He told me I could find her oneday, if I truly wanted to, but that giving her away was the most unselfish act I could do as a
mother. And you know, he was right. I don’t regret doing it. I just find it so weird that I found
peace in the simple act of giving a child to a barren couple. And of all the teachers to help me in
my hour of need, it was he. He provided the shoulder to cry on, the tissues to wipe the tears from
my eyes, and the comfort in having a friend.”
“His heart is bigger than even I knew,” I replied.
“He was wonderful. A great man indeed,” she said softly. “But I must go. I still haven’t
unpacked all my things. Thanks for letting me visit him for awhile.”
“No problem. Come as often as you like.”
“Let me know if there’s any improvement?” she asked as she handed me a folded paper
with her name and number scribbled on it.
“Of course,” I said as I took the paper and shoved it into my pocket.
“Thanks again,” she said as she quietly left the room.
I was once again left alone in the room with only my thoughts and the sound of the
mechanical breathing machine to keep me company. Was I being selfish not allowing them to
pull the plug and let him pass away? Did I honestly think he would overcome this coma and
breathe on his own again? And why couldn’t I take Aleksandra’s advice and bring him over to
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When I looked at him lying there helplessly, just a shell of the man he once was, this little
nagging feeling popped up into the pit of my stomach. Would he prefer to be turned and live like
me and with me? Or, was the dream-like state he was currently living in a truly better place for
him to be? I had never actually come right out and asked him if he would some day like to
become a vampire. Maybe I never asked that because I was afraid he would say yes and then I
was also afraid he would say no. Neither answer would be a good thing in my mind, so I never
gave him the choice. Plus, at the time, I thought we had many years ahead of us to explore such
options. I never dreamt he would be stricken down in the prime of his life.
Every night I sat there by his bedside and a little piece of me slowly died away. After a
while, I couldn’t even muster a smile. Eventually there grew this hole in my heart so wide and so
deep that I could no longer see the bottom. I live now in a state of constant despair. No words
can comfort me. And every single time the doctors approach the subject of ending Wesley’s life,
I become enraged inside.
Last night, I was holding his hand hoping, with every fiber in my being, that I would
obtain some response from him. I didn’t care how vague the response was just as long as there
was one. I sat there until it was nearly dawn and I had no choice but to leave. Not once did a
finger twitch, an eyelid move, or a toe wiggle. I knew deep down, where I didn’t want to know
the truth and I could deny it that, he was never waking up. And I made the decision, a very brave
one on my part, not to turn him and to not even try.
I kissed his lips and let my bloody tears fall on his perfect skin. I watched them roll down
his cheeks as if they were his tears. I could have sworn I got some subtle reaction when my lips
met his, but I was just fooling myself.
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That night I hardly slept. I tossed and turned. I wiggled under the covers. I waited till
nightfall and it seemed like it was never going to come.
I managed to catch Aleksandra before she left the condo. She was dressed down, like a
student, her hair pulled back in a ponytail and a pencil stuck behind her ear. Her canvas shoes
were laced loosely and the toes were slightly worn. Her jeans were faded and loose fitting and
her coat, spiffy and posh. She smelled of vanilla and orchids, an interesting combination.
“Aleksandra,” I said as she reached for the doorknob. “Can I have a moment?”
“Sure,” she replied. “Is something wrong? You look dreadful.”
“I have to ask you to do something for me,” I began. The tears were already rolling down
my cheeks. “It’s not going to be easy for me to ask this, but I have to.”
“What? You can ask me anything!” she replied. She dropped her bag by the door and
came to my side. I began shaking, my head hurt. She walked me into the study and sat me down
on the couch. “What is wrong, mother?”
“It’s Wesley,” I replied finding it extremely difficult to form the words.
“His condition has not improved. I know.”
“I can’t sit there watching him die away like this. I can no longer do it,” I said tearfully.
“It’s OK, mother,” she replied. “He wouldn’t expect you to give up everything and sit
there every night like you have. He would want you to rejoin life.”
“I can’t do that either,” I said. “I don’t want him laying there wasting away in that bed
any longer.”
“Then you have decided to unhook the IV’s and turn off the machine?” she asked.
“No,” I whispered.
“No?” she asked.
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“This is where I need your help,” I said as I looked into her eyes. They were so full of
“My help?” she asked. “Do you want me to be there instead? You know, when they take
him off the life support?”
“No,” I answered.
“Then how can I help?” she asked.
“I want,” I began. “Um… this is difficult and I can’t believe I’m asking this of you
“Mother, just ask.” She placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder.
“I need you to end his life for me. I need you to take him quickly and painlessly. I know
you are capable of that.”
“What?” She looked puzzled.
“It has to be done this way. I can’t guarantee that he won’t feel pain when they remove
the life support. The doctors have told me he could live for a few hours after they remove the
tubes but that his breathing would be labored. But, I know he won’t feel pain if you take his life,”
I explained.
“Yes, but,” she stammered.
“Just think about it, promise that, OK?” I asked. “Just think about it.”
“Ok, I will think about it,” she compassionately replied.
She left me sitting there with my tears and my dreary thoughts. I could not believe I had
asked that of her, but it meant the world to me that she was willing to consider it.
I went and sat with him. I held his hand. I cried. I told him how much I loved him, how I
just couldn’t live without him. I watched his chest move with each puff from the ventilator. He
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looked so peaceful lying there.
I was recalling all the times his gentle eyes looked into mine. I was cherishing the
memories of him and who he had been. I read him some poetry and some Shakespeare. I
remember watching Twelfth Night with him. The performance had been remarkable; the actors
were very talented. He had loved it. And I remember sitting there next to him and watching his
face more than I watched the actual play.
There would be no more plays. There would be no more smiles from his face. No more
laughing, no more joking, but most importantly, no more pain. Was that too much to ask for?
Was it selfish or merciful, what I had asked Aleksandra to do? Would he forgive me if he could?
It was close to midnight, the clock had yet to strike the hour, when Aleksandra came into
the room from the dimly lit hallway. I had been holding his hand and brushing his hair with my
other hand.
“Say your good-byes tonight,” she said softly.
“You’ve decided to help me then?” I asked urgently.
“Yes,” she replied. “Tomorrow. So say farewell now.” And with that she turned and left,
walking down the hallway from whence she came.
I stayed with him until the approaching sun forced me to leave. Walking out of that room
was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I never wanted to let go of his hand. I found it hard
to stop kissing his face. I had even buried my head in his chest and wept like a tiny child.
“Wesley,” I had said to him before I left. “I hope, wherever you are, that you can hear me
now. Please, know that I love you and I’m doing this because of my love for you. You won’t feel
any pain so you needn’t fear. My love for you will transcend time and space. My love for you
will never die away.”
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I had left a single rose; a blood red perfectly formed bud, in his hands. He looked so
peaceful as if he were already in his death sleep. The light near his bed, I turned it off. The
curtains in his window, I closed.
Now, it is the next night. The sky is pitch black, void of twinkling stars; raindrops are
pounding against the windows like little souls trying to break through the glass. Aleksandra left
hours ago. She wouldn’t tell me the exact hour that she would take his life, just that she would.
So, I sat down here in my study, in front of the raging fire and began writing this account
of my life. I decided last night, as I held onto his hand for the last time, what ultimately had to be
The hour, my dear readers, is growing late. The sun will make its face known sooner than
I had thought. Time has slipped by too quickly as I wrote these pages. I hope you can learn
something from my narrative. Live life as if you will die tomorrow, because you very well can.
Embrace every moment of every day. Tell the ones you love just how much they mean to you.
Don’t ever wait for tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Leave nothing undone.
And now, my dear reader, as this night comes to an end, I have found a final goodbye
that must be said. To all my children I have created, to those I’ve shared these many centuries
with, you have all made me proud. I have never regretted a single thing I’ve done and that goes
for making each and every one of you. Winston, erase from your mind any guilt you may still
harbor in making me those many years ago. I owe it all to you, everything I’ve experienced, and
everyone I’ve loved.
There is a quote I am reminded of just now, it has crept into my mind like a whisper
from beyond. It’s from the author named Kahlil Gibran. He said, “For what is it to die, but to
stand in the sun and melt into the wind?”
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I leave this account of my life and now of my death to you, my loyal readers. I will end
this volume soon and slip these pages into a manila envelope. They will be sent to the Chicago
Sun Time’s and hopefully get published so that everyone can learn something from my tale.
And now, my children, my readers, I will go and meet the sun as it rises over the water. I
will cherish its golden rays and remember when life was simple and sweet. I will die now and I
will melt into the wind and it’s current will carry me farther than I could ever carry myself.
Farewell my children. Farewell my friends. Farewell sweet moonlight, for so long you were my
3:55 AM
December 21st, 2005
There was an odd and unfamiliar feeling disseminating around the front hall when
Aleksandra entered in the wee hours of the morning before the sun had crept into the sky. The
snowflakes had gathered thickly in her hair as she had flown home from the hospital. She was a
broken woman that evening; a very sad sight to behold. A great burden shown on her face and
hung on her mind.
“I was wondering if you were coming home tonight,” Winston said from behind the
Aleksandra opened the cedar hall closet and hung her leather coat on the inside hook as
she always did. She lingered there for a moment though, hesitating behind the closet door, before
closing it gently.
“Is mother home?” she asked, afraid what the answer might be.
“Yes, she’s been here all night, I think,” he answered. He was leaning on the far wall, his
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royal blue pajamas adding mystery to his lengthy frame. “Why?”
“I was just wondering,” she said in a whisper. “Are you ready for bed?” She asked as she
began walking down the long hallway leading to her and Winston’s bedroom.
“Actually, I was planning on watching a movie,” he answered as he flashed her a copy of
The Sixth Sense.
“Winston, you’ve like watched that movie a million times. Do you think you can maybe
wait one more night to watch it again?” she asked her voice hurried and impatient.
“Is something bothering you?”
“I…” she hesitated. She was unsure how much she should or could divulge to him or if
this was even the right time to do so, “I really can’t talk about it tonight. I really should talk to
mother first.”
“Well, she’s in the Study,” he answered. “Why not get it off your chest tonight? You’ll
sleep better.”
Aleksandra look in the direction of the Study. She dreaded facing Bree. She dreaded the
awkwardness and the confession of the evening’s events.
“I can’t tonight. I’m too drained,” she answered.
She moved closer to Winston and embraced him. They held each other for a few minutes,
her arms growing tighter with each passing second.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it, Darling?” he asked as he held her tightly.
“I’m sure,” she answered. Aleksandra then looked up into the face of her tall and
handsome lover and planted a firm yet gentle kiss on his waiting lips. “Just come to bed with me
tonight?” she whispered pleadingly into his ear. “Please?”
“Alright, my Darling,” he answered taking her hand in his and leading her into their
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The air was warm and stale in their bedroom. The white satin sheets shimmered in the
moonlight that peaked through the curtained windows. As Aleksandra began folding back the
covers and rearranging the pillows on the bed, Winston moved about the room closing the heavy
curtains and fastening them with clips.
A lonely crimson tear began to fall from Aleksandra’s eye as she dressed in her pale
yellow nightgown. She moved quickly to wipe it away before Winston could see it, but she had
been too late.
“My Darling, what’s troubling you?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she answered as she climbed into the bed and began pulling the white downfilled comforter to her chin.
“We are not going to sleep until you tell me what is wrong,” he said firmly.
“Winston, don’t make me tell you,” she said, her eyes growing misty with the coming
flood of tears that threatened to break out from behind her eyelids.
“I don’t want to make you do anything, Aleksandra, but whatever it is that weights on
your mind it must be disturbing. You can’t even put it out of your mind for one minute. Please,
dry your tears and tell me, my Love. I can help you. I promise.”
“You can’t help me, Winston. It’s already done,” she answered, the crimson tears now
running down her cheeks like a gushing waterfall.
“Well, I can at least listen can’t I?” he asked gently.
She pulled her legs from beneath the comforter and drew them up under her chin. She
buried her head in her knees and sobbed.
“If I could just know her reasoning, then maybe it would be OK,” she managed to say
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through a veil of tears.
“Her reasoning? Whose reasoning, Aleksandra?” he asked as he placed a comforting arm
around her and pulled her closer to him in the bed.
“Mothers,” she responded.
“Bree?” he said with confusion. “What did she ask you to do?”
“Winston, she asked me to kill Wesley,” she stated with a hollow essence to her voice
that made Winston shudder.
“Why would she ask this of you?” he asked curiously.
“I don’t know. That’s what I’ve been struggling with all evening.”
“That’s not like Bree. She would never kill someone herself let alone ask someone else to
do so,” he remarked.
“I know,” she responded. “That’s what has me so worried.”
“Did you do it?” he asked even though he was terrified that the answer would be yes.
“Winston,” she began, “I just couldn’t.”
“Oh, Thank Goodness!” He relaxed against the headboard. “Oh, Thank Goodness!”
“But Winston, she asked me to do that as a favor to her and I couldn’t do it. I promised
her I would! What am I going to say tomorrow night?”
“Just tell her the truth. Just tell her…the truth whatever that may be!” he exclaimed.
“What happened, exactly?” he asked.
Aleksandra rose from the bed and seated herself in a large, overstuffed light brown
leather chair near the western corner of the room. She reached up and turned on a small overhead
lamp, the light flickered twice and then became stable, before drawing her knees up into the chair
and continuing.
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“After mother asked me, I couldn’t understand why. Then I imagined if you were mortal
and if something had happened to you, and I knew couldn’t sit there and watch you die inch by
inch minute by minute,” she began. “It didn’t take long but finely I decided to go ahead and do
“Why didn’t you do it then?” he asked like a curious schoolboy.
“I went to the hospital full and ready to end his life but when I got there I was delayed. A
nurse was taking vitals when I entered the room. Of course, she gave me this wild lecture about
visitors after visiting hours but I calmed her down by saying I was his daughter and that I had
just heard news of his hospitalization. Thankfully, that got her out of the room and one of his
doctors in to speak with me.”
“Interesting,” he remarked.
“Yes,” she began again. “I was looking at him actually when the doctor came in. I was
remembering the first time mother brought him around, the first time he found out we were
vampires as well, and…” The tears began to well up in her eyes again but she fought them back.
“… And how happy he once made mother.”
“Yes, he did make her happy. I hadn’t seen her that fulfilled in a very, very long time,” he
remarked with a hint of sadness in his voice. “I was hoping it would last longer than it has.”
“I was just about to do it when I looked at his breathing. I knew it was mechanical, I was
trying to convince myself that it was such, but it just wasn’t working. So, I decided to sit there by
him and just watch the machines breathe for him. I must have sat there for an hour or so before
the doctor came in,” she said, her stare vacant and off in the distance. “He came and said the
oddest thing to me, something I just wasn’t prepared to hear.”
“What did he say?” he asked curiously.
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“Well, mother had made it sound like he was already gone in a sense. But the doctor, he
was telling me that there was a fifty percent chance that Wesley would breathe on his own if they
removed the respirator.”
“Are you serious?” he asked. “Fifty percent? Had they not told Bree this?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I never asked her. Now, I wish I had,” she said. “After hearing
that there was just no way I could end his life. And I highly doubt mother would want me to if
there was a chance he could live on his own without the mechanical assistance.”
“I’m sure she would want to take that chance,” he said.
“I just don’t know how to approach her with that.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, you know her, the moment she sees me she’s going to go into hysterics thinking I
took his life. We’ll be lucky to calm her down within a month!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know. I
think we should just sleep and then I’ll approach her tomorrow evening.”
“Hold on,” he said as she began climbing back into bed, “Just hold on.”
“What?” she asked.
“What aren’t you telling me?” he asked. “I know there’s something else, I just know it.”
“Nothing gets past you now does it!” she said sarcastically. “Since they think I am his
daughter that makes me responsible for his health care. They want me to decide whether to
remove the tubes or not.”
“Oh, dear. Are you going to remove them?”
“That is why I’m upset!” she paused. “I signed the papers to have the tubes removed
tomorrow evening.”
“Well, we will tell Bree and then she can be there if she so chooses,” he said.
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“No! You mustn’t tell her!” she exclaimed.
“If he struggles to breathe, and can’t do it, they won’t reenter the tube. If he dies this way,
he’ll feel some pain. I can’t stand the thought of her watching that,” she said tearfully.
“Alright,” he remarked. “We won’t tell her. Either way, she’ll get what she wants. Either
he’ll be gone and in no more pain or, he’ll be awake again.”
“Let’s hope it’s the later,” she commented as she pulled the covers up to her chest.
The pair snuggled together and fell into a deep slumber just as the sun rose behind the
heavy black curtains that adorned their windows. The evening’s events were but blur to the
calmness of sleep.
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8:12 PM
December 22nd, 2005
The sun had long hid away, and then the moon was set in the sky before Aleksandra
awakened. She had risen from the bed, smoothed the covers on her side, and began undoing the
clips fastening the curtains together. The Chicago skyline, the twinkling lights of the city beneath
her, held her in amazement. The movements of life in a city had always intrigued her.
She moved about the room undoing each curtain and pausing just a minute to enjoy the
views. The covers rustled as Winston climbed out of the bed, grumbling something incoherent.
Something hung in the night air, something unsettling. Winston opened the door, making it creak
on its hinges as it opened, and made his way to the main door in search of the days’ paper.
“There’s a light flashing on the answering machine!” Winston yelled from the hall.
As she dressed for the evening, Aleksandra was trying to shrug off the odd feeling that
was overwhelming her. She knew that Wesley’s doctors were waiting for her so that they could
remove the life support. She was hesitant to go but she knew it had to be done.
“Did you here me?” Winston asked as he flopped onto the bed and began spreading out
the Lifestyles section. “There’s a message flashing on the answering machine.”
“Then why didn’t you check it?” she asked as she buttoned the final button on her orange
corduroy jacket.
“Not really in the mood,” he answered. “It’s probably for you or Bree anyway. No
one ever calls me on the home phone.”
Winston had the paper scattered, each section spread all over the bed. He was searching
for something as he quickly flipped the pages, throwing the sections on the bed one by one when
he didn’t find what he had been looking for. He was growing rather frustrated. Aleksandra
paused at the doorway and looked at him strangely. She couldn’t figure out what he was
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searching so earnestly for.
“What are you looking for?” she asked curiously.
“Oh, um,” he explained, keeping his eyes on the papers in front of him. “There was going
to be a concert at McCormick Place tomorrow night, but I can’t find the review for it.”
“Just go to their website. If the play is any good they’ll have a link to the article
reviewing it,” she replied.
“I hate computers. They are taking over the world,” he responded. He was always weary
of technology. It had taken years to convince him that cell phones were here to stay and not some
passing fad.
“Oh, honey,” she said, kissing him softly on the forehead. “The computers aren’t taking
over the world, the aliens are.”
Aleksandra slid her tan suede wedge boots on and reached for the doorknob. She paused,
hesitatingly, not wanting to open the door but knowing she must.
“It will be OK,” Winston said from the bed. “You’ll do fine.”
“What if he suffers?” she asked softly.
“Then you can do it quickly, even with the doctors standing around,” he said. “I’ve seen
you do it before.”
She opened the door and started down the hallway to leave. She hadn’t noticed the light
flashing until she had gotten on her coat and was preparing to leave. She had forgotten that there
was even a message waiting on the answering machine. As she pressed the play button she could
feel a draft from the study and figured Bree had opened a window. She thought Bree was already
mourning Wesley’s passing thinking that Aleksandra had done the deed last night. Then reality
came in loud and clear over the answering machine, pulling Aleksandra’s attention back to the
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The message was from the hospital. It was Dr. Davies – the neurologist she had met last
night. He sounded like even he couldn’t believe what he was saying. “Please come as soon as
you get this message. At 12:15 this afternoon, your father seems to have come out of his coma.
I’ll be in the hospital until tomorrow morning. I’ve instructed the nurse to page me when you
arrive so, please let them know when you come.”
It was a miracle! She played the message over just to make sure she hadn’t heard him
wrong. She couldn’t believe it. He had awoken on his own! Now she wouldn’t have to remove
the life support. Now he wouldn’t die. Now he and Bree could be together!
She rushed down the hallway and flung the door open startling Winston. He looked at her
in bewilderment.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Where’s mother?” she asked hurriedly.
“I think she’s in the study,” he said. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“It’s a miracle, Winston!” she exclaimed. “A true miracle!”
“What is?”
“Wesley! He’s out of his coma!”
“Are you kidding?” he asked in disbelief.
“No, it’s true. The message was from his doctor. He woke up this afternoon!” she
explained. “I have to tell mother. She’s going to be so incredibly happy!”
Not waiting for a reply from Winston, Aleksandra flew down the hallway and flung the
study door open. In the darkness she could see Bree’s outline sitting on the balcony in a reclining
lounge chair.
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“Mother! Hurry up!” she screamed. “Wesley’s awake!”
Aleksandra paused at the doorway. Why wasn’t Bree answering her? Aleksandra thought
this kind of news would elicit a great response from Bree but instead, she remained on the
balcony as if she hadn’t even heard her.
“Mother?” she screamed even louder this time yet, there was still no response.
Slowly Aleksandra entered and made her way across the room. The balcony door had
been left open slightly and the freezing night air was creeping in. As she passed Bree’s writing
desk near the fireplace, Aleksandra noticed a large manila envelope with her and Winston’s
names written on the cover.
“Mother?” she asked again as she passed the desk.
As Aleksandra reached for the sliding balcony door, she heard Winston enter the room.
As he flipped on the light switch, and the room filled with a soft artificial glow, Aleksandra saw
through the glass the horrifying image of her mother laying catatonic on the lounge chair, her
eyes closed and her arms laying at her side.
Aleksandra went into a hurried frenzy screaming. She began to shake violently. Winston
ran to her side to calm her. They both stared at Bree’s statue like image from behind the glass
“She’s not moving,” Aleksandra observed.
“Go and sit on the couch. I’m going to move her inside,” Winston commanded.
Aleksandra obeyed, still in shock, and went and sat on the couch. She couldn’t steer her
gaze from the sight of her mother on the balcony. What had happened to her, she wondered.
Winston went onto the balcony and scooped up Bree into his arms. She had become
heavy, like lead, and her body was stiff. He moved her onto the settee by the fireplace and
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looked down at this statue of his sister. Her skin was no longer pale like theirs. It was tanned,
almost like that of a native islander. He checked if it was some kind of makeup but it didn’t
smudge of on his hands when his fingers touched her cheek. He stroked it harder yet still nothing
came off. Her skin felt rough like leather and her once beautiful blonde hair seemed reddish now.
Her body was ridged and there was no response to his touches.
“What’s happened to her?” Aleksandra asked fearfully from the couch.
“I think she went into the sun,” Winston said as he came and sat on the couch, taking
Aleksandra into his arms.
“It’s impossible. Everyone who’s went into the sun has burned into a pile of ash,” she
“Honey, I have no other explanation,” he said. “Look at her skin, her hair, what do you
think could have done that?”
“I don’t know,” she answered.
Several minutes went by as they both sat there beholding the sight in front of them. Tears
rolled down both of their cheeks and neither of them fought them back. Finally, Aleksandra
stood up and ventured over to the desk and collected the manila envelope.
“What is that?” Winston asked.
“I’m not sure, but it has our names on it.”
Winston reached out for the envelope and she handed it to him. He removed a rather
large handwritten manuscript and began reading it. Aleksandra could tell from the writing that
Bree had written it. She could even see some small red tearstains on some of the pages as
Winston thumbed through them.
“What is it?” she asked him.
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“It seems to be an account of her life, her vampiral life,” he answered. He continued
thumbing through the pages, stopping occasionally to read a few passages to himself. Then he
reached the last page and after reading it, he closed his eyes and wept silently.
“Winston?” Aleksandra asked. “What does it say?”
“Read it,” he said handing her the pages.
“…I will go and meet the sun as it rises over the water. I will cherish its golden rays and
remember when life was simple and sweet. I will die now and I will melt into the wind and it’s
current will carry me farther than I could ever carry myself,” Aleksandra stopped, unable to read
She stood and went over to Bree. She touched her hair and felt the rough skin for herself.
She kissed her cheek feeling it’s strange warmth.
“It’s strange, Winston,” she began. “She is so warm, almost as if she were mortal again.
Yet, she’s not.”
“But she isn’t gone completely,” he whispered in disbelief. “It’s as if there is something
special about her; something that makes her immune to the sunlight.”
“I know. I don’t understand it, either,” she began. “There have been so many through the
years who have went into the sun and burned into ash and clearly she thought she would too or
she would’ve never have went out onto the balcony.”
“I know my maker burned in the daylight,” he remarked.
“I don’t think she’s gone though,” Aleksandra said. “I don’t think her soul has moved on.
I just have a feeling. There’s a soul still in her body,” she explained. “There is still something
holding her here.”
“I think you are right,” he said.
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Aleksandra laid her hand on Bree’s hand. It was like stone, like petrified wood, and it
didn’t respond to her squeeze. She sat there for a few minutes just watching Bree lay there. There
were so many questions she wanted to ask her. There were so many things she wanted to tell her
but she didn’t know if she would ever have the chance again. Aleksandra didn’t know if Bree
would ever wake from this state she was in. But she knew they had to keep her, take care of her,
and wait to see if that time would ever come. She knew Bree would have done that for any one
of them.
“We are going to keep her here, Winston, keep her here and watch over her,” she said. He
didn’t disagree with her. “She thought she had lost the only man she has ever truly felt connected
to, on all levels. I should have seen this coming. I should have known when she asked me to end
his life for her. I should have known that would send her over the edge.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Aleksandra,” he said, comforting her. “There was no way for you
to know what she was capable of and not capable of handling. I’m her brother and I never saw
this coming. No, not from her.”
She leaned over Bree and a tiny crimson tear fell from her eye and rolled down Bree’s
cheek. Snowflakes began falling outside like teardrops. It seemed like life was rushing about
outside, people were shopping for Christmas, carolers were singing, and traffic bustled with
people traveling to parties and plays all over the city – the city that Bree had found a true home
in. But in this room, in this quiet Study, everything Winston and Aleksandra had ever known had
been flipped upside down. Their world was in limbo as long as Bree remained in this state.
“Mother,” Aleksandra whispered. “If you’re in there, we’ll take care of you. We love you
so much,” she paused, almost too choked up to continue, “Wesley has woken up, Mother. He’s
out of his coma. You don’t have to live life without his love. You can make him immortal and
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he’ll never leave you. Just please wake up.”
The sadness erupted inside her like a giant volcano and she became overwhelmed with
emotion. She was beginning to slip into another fit of hysterics when Winston took a hold of her
shoulder and led her out of the room, shutting off the light behind them.
“Why didn’t she burn up, Winston?” she asked through a flood of tears.
“I don’t know,” he replied as he led her to their room.
“Do you think she’ll ever wake up?” she asked.
“I don’t know, honey,” he answered. “I just don’t know.”
“I hope she does, Winston,” she cried as he laid her on the bed and covered her up with
an orange throw that had been lying at the end of the bed.
“I do too, my Love,” he replied softly. “I do too.”