A/N: This will be the first part in a series. I'm in a vampire stage and couldn't help but write something dark and delicious about them. There will be a lot of sexual tension built up but I promise to deliver... plentifully.
Darkness painted my days, even when I was a child. This was not a personal affliction; the others in my village lived existences stained with the forbidden knowledge that there were others in our world, others that were never meant to be. We should not have known of their existence, but for some reason they were made known to us. None of our elders ever recalled a time when we did not live in fear of them. It seemed that Darkness was an old, old friend. The beasts of the night had haunted our village long enough for us to assign them a name- Vampire. They were the Undead... things once human and now cursed with the most vile of afflictions.
For as long as I could remember, garlic adorned our thresholds- they apparently had a pungent earthiness that seemed to repel their other-worldliness. Metal bolts locked our doors once the sun went down, but we knew from an attack a few years before it did little to keep them out. They could not come out in the day; their skin was too fragile, too old, and too dead to withstand the sun's powerful rays. Or so the tales said. Crucifixes hung on the front of our homes, though they didn't do much of anything. They merely stood as a symbol for those who believed God would keep those unspeakable beings from them.
Father was not one of the faithful ones, and he was not alone. Many had been visited by the icy hand of death in the night, losing the ones they loved and needed most. My mother was taken when I was only 3, destroying my childhood and devastating my father. No crucifix hung on our home. My father felt that only he could bring safety and security to us; God had abandoned us to the night long ago. So he roamed when the sun let out its last gasp, taking his chances. He carried a bow and arrow, and assured me every night as he bolted me inside that nothing would harm me. The creatures would never win; he'd take care of me. Others followed his lead blindly, eager to be doing something- anything- to rid ourselves of things surely sent by the Devil.
Of course my father was a fool. He played a game against an unknown competitor, a game with rules he did not nor could not ever know. He walked around their playground with his measly bow and arrow, as tasty to them as a mouse to a cat. Indeed, they played with him much like a cat toys with its prey. He'd hear his name being called; something invisible dragged him down into a pile of mud; a force of wind ripped off the bow from his back. The Vampires must have been incredibly entertained. Luckily they never harmed him. But my father could not have been more wrong when he assured me night after night that no one could get to me, alone in our cottage. He could not have known, nor could I, that my life would soon be changed forever.
It was customary that the men of our village split into two groups: one that hunted and one that protected. The protectors would watch over the houses the hunters left behind to ensure there was always someone around to watch over the women and children. Designated to certain areas, the men stayed up most of the night and watched for irregularities. Sometimes I would peer out my window at them, watching their tall, cloaked forms pace from here to there, their breath tangling with the fog.
My father always asked William to watch our house. He viewed him as a surrogate son and frequently suggested that we would become betrothed to each other. I found William reliable and kind, and I liked him a great deal, but I envisioned dark lovers who whispered danger and hid amongst shadows. My musings were laughable considering the inexperience I had. William was slender with big blue eyes and blonde hair that hung sloppily but attractively around his face. The girls in our village stared longingly after him whenever he walked through; many referred to him as the "true definition of a man". Strong and fearless, he was one of the few men who put in more than three nights of night-watching a week. People feared him in a respectful way, and parents only wished their children could be like him.
I was the only one who remained unmoved. Girls considered me prissy and selfish, elders shook their heads, certain that the loss of my mother had made me peculiar, and my father just ignored me. I wanted a man who needed me, wanted me... couldn't exist without me. I wanted him dark and tall, dangerous yet gentle. Possessive but not controlling. William might have found me pretty, engaging, and -in his eyes- a perfect fit for a wife, but he didn't know me at all. He'd marry me, send me off in a small cabin somewhere, have me raise his children, and never challenge me. Never play with me. Never know me.
It didn't matter what I wanted or didn't want, however; if my father had begun arrangements for our betrothal, then betrothed I would be.
My friend Abigail thought he was particularly charming, even though she was due to marry Andrew the next spring.
"Really, you couldn't do any better," she said one cold, late Autumn morning, watching him as he spoke to some of the younger girls. "All of the girls want to marry him."
"Yes, I know," I murmured. Distractedly I counted the number of eggs I picked up from the shopkeeper's basket.
Abigail laughed for a moment but then touched my arm. I looked up at her and was struck by the sobriety of her features. "You should take care with him. He loves you a great deal."
Smiling, I picked up another egg and thanked the man. "How can he love me? He doesn't know a thing about me."
"You've read too many books," Abigail said seriously. "You are too romantic. He knows what he needs to know. Maybe he doesn't speak to you as much as he should, and maybe he doesn't try as hard to let you know him, but trust me when I say he knows you. I bet if we walked up to him right now and asked he'd know what your favorite food was.... when you were last sick... the book you're reading now... the--"
"Enough," I interrupted. We were nearing him.
William looked up and caught my eye. He smiled brightly, easily and happily, and greeted us both. I was always struck by his gregarious nature.
"You should have told me you needed eggs," William said, staring into my basket. "I've told you before that you're free to take some from our chickens." He pushed some hair back from his forehead, the hair glowing from the sunlight's touch.
"Thank you," I replied. "I will next time." I always said that whenever he suggested me making the trip over to his farm.
He nodded but I knew he could tell I was just placating him. He smiled and wished us well before we walked off.
"You're right. There's not a hint of love in his being," Abigail whispered sardonically.
I don't have many memories of my mother, but I remember finding her, blue and drained of blood. Her purple, empty veins had stood in contrast to the pale-blue of her skin. She was eight months pregnant. I remember waking up and instantly smelling something sweet, like an ocean of flowers during springtime. The air was too saccharine. Something was wrong. Frightened, I crept out of bed and went to her room. That's when I saw her, draped across her bed.
I screamed and screamed, thinking at first she died giving birth to my baby sibling. Father soon appeared, rushing toward her without hesitation, and cried out when he saw the two unmistakable puncture wounds to her throat. The thing that took her life must have felt some remorse after; it covered her swollen body up in a blanket and fanned out her beautiful hair. Had she not been so blue, I would have thought her in a deep, relaxing sleep.
My father had to be dragged away by my uncle. On and on he raved about how he shouldn't have stayed so late at the tavern. He shouldn't have left us alone. He should have been more careful. In spite of my age, I couldn't help but feel like the guilty one but he would have none of that. He wept his share that night, wrapped in the convenient darkness, and then he never shed a tear again. He turned his pain into something cruel and harsh. Gone was the loving playfulness in his eyes. It was obvious he would not rest until vengeance was achieved. I didn't only lose my mother that night.
Thoughts of that day often burdened my sleep, and I would awake, cold and sweaty and motherless once again. When I was younger sometimes I'd scream and my father would come in, standing helplessly. He never knew what to do to comfort me.
This particular night I jolted awake with a strangled scream, my bedsheets wrapped around my legs so that I felt trapped. I kicked and kicked as sweat tickled its way down my brow and back. Then I instantly became aware I was not alone, but it was too late to scream. The figure was upon me, crushing me with its weight. He spoke to me but I couldn't hear the words; instead I punched and clawed at him, desperate to be free. He released me and stood up, speaking to me in a calming voice. Finally I realized William was in my room.
"I'm so sorry," I heard him say again. "You were having a bad dream... I thought-"
"No, I'm sorry," I interrupted him, my voice raspy and small. My heart still pounded in my chest, remembering the blood that had congealed around my mother's beautiful, tiny neck. She had been wearing the necklace I made for her. Instead of obsessing over that particular vision, I focused on the man who awkwardly stood a few steps before me. "Did I hurt you?"
He chucked in the darkness. "No. If you had I would have deserved it. I shouldn't have grabbed you like that."
"Please," I gestured, waving a dismissive hand. "I can be quite barbaric in bed."
My cheeks rapidly turned red hot in the blackness of my room. I thought I heard him take a deep breath, but I was too focused on cursing myself for saying such an idiotic thing.
I waited for him to excuse himself and leave, but he continued to stand there. The moon cast lazy shadows about him as he took a step closer to me. I caught a glimpse of the masculine fuzz on his upper lip and felt a strange emotion I couldn't identify.
"Would you like to tell me about your dream? Sometimes my sister tells me her nightmares. It helps her feel better."
That was one thing I could not deny William: he was amazing with his younger sister, Kathleen. I smiled, then remembered he couldn't see me. "Thank you, but I don't think you'd want to hear this particular one."
William dragged my rocking chair over and deftly lit the candle on my night-table. "I assure you nothing you could say would upset me."
Now in the scant light I couldn't hide my embarrassed blush. It wasn't his words, exactly... it was the way he said them. And there was a look in his eyes that made me tingle. I looked down at my palms. Never one to care much for propriety, I was very aware that I was merely in my nightgown in his presence. I was fairly certain he was also quite aware.
He must have noticed my discomfort, for he smiled at me warmly and pushed his chair back a bit. It didn't really help, but I appreciated his effort.
"It was about my mother," I sighed. I figured it was best I just tell him as fast as I could so he would return to his duties. "When I... The day I found her."
William's face was expressionless; he didn't seem surprised. "Do you dream of this often?"
Staring at the wall, I nodded. "Nearly every night."
His thumb stroked the satiny skin of the top of my hand. Shocks ran from the point he touched me down to my toes. This was unbearably improper. I softly but directly removed my hand from his and tucked my hands into my arms. He cleared his throat but I didn't dare look up.
He stood and said, "If you can't sleep, or you have another bad dream, or you just want to talk... Call my name." His dark blue eyes took me in for a moment with an expression so intense that I felt my breathing quicken inexplicably. Thankfully he blew out the candle. "Sleep well. I'm here to protect you."
And then he left me shaking in the cool nighttime air. I snuggled back into my sheets, positive I wouldn't get back to sleep for a while, and thought that those were the most words William had ever said to me.
The next night someone else was blessedly the watchman. The day had been unbearable for me. I had spotted William by the shops and turned ten shades of red when he gave me a warm, personal smile that reminded me of the feel of his thumb and the shade of his eyes in candlelight. I was fairly sure I didn't deserve so nice and intimate a smile, nor if I wanted one. I might have smiled back, but it very well could have been a frown. I was so confused; feelings I'd never known existed were surging throughout my chest and up to my head, only to confuse my thoughts and give me a headache. It was moments like these I longed for my mother the most.
Thankfully I managed to get through the rest of the day without seeing him. Now I dressed in my nightgown and hoped I'd have a better night's sleep. Indeed, I drifted off quite quickly and was dreaming of something relatively pleasant when a crash roused me.
Instantly I snapped upright but it was too late. A giant body smacked into mine, effortlessly pushing my body back into the pillows. Rough hands ran down the length of my body, catching at my breasts and hips. A mouth danced across my throat, and I felt the unmistakable points of glistening fangs against my vulnerable flesh. Horrified, I opened my mouth to scream when the body was ripped from me and thrown into the wall.
I blinked against the darkness, struggling to see the battle that was going on in my tiny room. Grunts, curses, and the sound of flesh punching flesh was all I could hear. Belatedly I fumbled for a match and lit my small candle, illuminating two men rolling together violently on my floor. Or, I should say, two vampires.
My heart raced and a scream rose in my throat. My mouth opened but I couldn't scream; the fear literally had me paralyzed. The sight of them - these creatures that I'd grown up hearing about, the very same villains that threatened my dreams each night, the same monsters that had destroyed the happiness of my childhood - surprised me. We were always told they were hideous and disfigured. Their physical attributes were described as akin to a boar's, or even a wolf's. Never in my most terrifying dreams had I ever imagined they'd be so beautiful. I couldn't get a proper look at either of them, but it was quickly apparent they were handsome. Their pale skin glowed in the moonlight, and in my weak candlelight it looked the erotic skin some of the more tawdry authors of my book collection had described. My poor heartbeat went even faster and I felt some wild urge, some undeniable pull to them. I wanted to tear off my gown, run to them and take my mouth and--
One looked up at me, his fangs fully descended and glittering with saliva. I changed my mind; the look in his eyes rendered him beyond ugly. He gave me an obscene open-mouthed smile and promised me something with his eyes I intuitively knew I wouldn't like. Thankfully his distraction gave his opponent the upper hand. The other vampire's hard fist pounded the other's face in rapid succession.
Swiftly -so swiftly I hardly saw the motion- the victorious vampire got to his feet, produced a large wooden stake, and plunged it passionately into the chest of the other creature. The thing on the floor howled and screeched, emitting the worst sounds I had ever heard. He writhed for awhile, moaning with each thrust of pain in his body. Then he was still, his face still twisted in his final cry.
The other stood staring at him, panting and holding his side. I was in such a state of shock I could not speak, could not scream. All I could do was stare. He truly was beautiful. His hair was dark and thick. His eyes were a chocolate brown, and they seemed more human than the other's as he stared at his defeated foe's body. He was tall and obviously strong, though not overly muscular. To me, he was all man. This thought was ridiculous, however, when one focused on those fangs.
Then his brown-eyed scrutiny flicked up to mine. The fangs slowly retracted, but I barely noticed them now. I was too struck by his gaze... his hungry gaze.
For some reason I was suddenly unafraid. My pulse slowed down, my head stopped spinning, and my stomach settled. Yet I knew intellectually I should be frightened, that I was frightened. He was staring at me with a yearning I could only assume was part of his bloodlust. Why wasn't I afraid?
I realized then he was doing some sort of magic, the kind of thing the old ladies gossiped about outside the butcher. My mind panicked, but my body would not. I looked at him with confusion.
"I will not harm you," he whispered calmly.
His words broke the spell.
"Help me!" I screamed. "Please!" I jumped out of my bed but tripped on the sheets.
Pain erupted in my ankle, but my desire to live and my fear of this sensuous, magical being in my room was enough to get my body up again. Unfortunately he had reached me and was tugging me to him with relentless hands.
"Stop screaming," he said, sounding vaguely impatient. "No-one can hear you."
So this was it. Was I destined to meet the same fate as my mother? What would my father do? He would never recover. Ever.
He pushed me so that I sat on the bed. He stood over me, not threateningly but as if he desired to put me at ease. His arms rose but then fell once again to his sides.
"I will not harm you," he repeated, his voice sounding impressively convincing. I knew better to believe the word of a vampire's, however. He saw my disdainful glare and let out a derisive snort. "Do you think I would have stopped him if I wanted you dead?"
"You probably wanted the food to yourself," I snapped back, unable to keep the words from thrusting out. I slapped my mouth in horror, realizing that taunting the monster wouldn't do me any favors.
He laughed like I was some amusing child and leant against my wall. "While you have a point, I assure you that this was not my intention."
"What do you want?" I asked, once again ignoring the desire to strip myself of my clothes and suck at his throat.
What was wrong with me? I had apparently become wonton and over a vampire, no less. What would I do, even if I were to rip off our clothes. Something in his dark brown eyes told me he would know just what to do.
"Nothing." He sounded surprised. "I knew that Charles was up to no good tonight. I followed him." He shrugged. I could not get over the gesture. It was so human. Still, I heard a note in his voice that told me he wasn't telling the entire truth. I had a strange sense there was more to his explanation. I couldn't dwell on it; I was still stunned a vampire was in my presence.
I could not get over the fact he was standing in my home, in my bedroom, so serenely. It was as though he didn't know we were enemies, that there weren't men out there with torches and stakes and God knows what else to dispose of him. And that I had never felt more alive or drawn to another person in my entire life.
Except he's not a person.
He lifted a hand to his sharp jaw and rubbed it while he seemed to think about something. The movement was so simple, so casual, and yet it reminded me of how masculine he was. My entire body felt alive. My stomach grew heavy as a warmth foreign to me settled there. My nipples hardened, embarrassingly so, beneath my rough clothing. I was itchy but delicious all over. He watched me the whole time, appearing to be aware of the effect he had on my body. I blushed and looked down.
"Why would you care if he killed me?"