A Dark Night with a Dark Stranger Ch. 11byBellstoires©
"Shall we?" Ragon asked, cocking his elbow for her to take.
For a moment she hesitated. It was only for a fraction of a second, but it was long enough for him to notice. What was she doing? Who was she kidding? Just looking at him, she knew that she wouldn't be able to stay away. After that she reached for him longingly, slipping her hand into his, rather than linking arms with him.
"Make sure you take lots of photos," Patrick said, waving as the group went to leave.
"Oh darling, I am sorry you can't come," Sandra said.
"I know! I even bought my zombie sailor costumes, just in case. But you know what happened the last time a vampire went to one of their parties and wasn't invited," he remarked grimy.
Sandra nodded, not wanting to extrapolate with Bell so close.
"What will you do?" Bell asked.
"I think I might order in," he replied mysteriously.
The drive to William and Nikolas's estate took about 40 minutes, and when they finally arrived they were fashionably late. Two large black gates opened creakily when their cars pulled up, and a few dogs instantly begun barking. Bell searched from her window to try and see the dogs, but could not.
When they reached a large cul-de-sac a man in a black suit opened their doors saying, "Welcome."
Ragon tossed his keys to him and he, Sameth and Bell waited for the rest of the coven to arrive in Clyde's care. A few moments later and both their cars were being parked with the rest of the guest's cars in an underground car park. The estate itself was beautiful. Small white lights highlighted what looked like a grape vineyard on either side of the front entrance of the large house. Immediately surrounding the house, were several jasmine bushes, that had been pruned to form a fence, and whose perfume permeated the entire entrance. The house itself was grand. Large French doors were open in welcome and hanging from the ceiling, wedged into the jasmine bushes and dotted on the deck were large orange pumpkins. They had been carved into eerie faces, with small tea light candles placed in the middle.
As soon as the coven walked into the entrance it was apparent just how seriously these guys took parties. The entire foyer was themed for Halloween, with a giant cauldron in centre stage, from which white heavy fog boiled out of.
"Dry ice," Bell mumbled to herself.
The ceiling, staircase banisters and tables were draped with thick cobwebs, and there were large open coffins all over, fashioned into chairs and couches. From where she stood, Bell could just make out an outside area off to the side, where fairy lights strewn around the jasmine shrubs twinkled, highlighting more coffin seats. Large iron cages hung from the ceiling, suspended by thick chains. Each contained a man, dressed in various Halloween costumes, dancing to music. Bell looked around for the source of the music, but was unable to find it. She guessed from the occasional delicate notes, followed by fluid rapid tones that it was someone playing a piano.
"Trick or treat," a young man said almost as soon as they had entered.
As soon as Bell saw him, she gasped. He was young, no more than 18, and he wore no shirt, only a long pair of black fitted pants, a black bowtie and an unbuttoned pair of tails. In his hands was a serving tray, with 4 or 5 glass goblets. The goblets were clearly full of blood, but this was not what had started Bell. The boy was covered in bite marks. They were on his wrists, his neck, hell, everywhere a major artery was. The bites themselves however looked to be old wounds. They were pinking around the edges, as if the healing process had already begun, and they were raised, from layer upon layer of new tissue being laid on top of each other.
"Which vintage would you prefer?" the waiter asked.
Clyde walked up to him and twiddled his fingers, as if in contemplation, scanning over the various goblets.
"Otherwise, I'm on tap," the boy said smiling.
Bell, who had watched as the boy looked down to his arm, felt instantly sick. Coming from his cephalic vein was a cannula, attached to a long extension set. Looking around, she saw another waiter, sitting down on one of the coffin chairs, while an older woman dressed as a dead Cleopatra, sucked hungrily at the tube, as if it were a straw.
Bringing Bell back to her surroundings, Clyde finally said, "1980's if you have it?"
"1980's?" Bell whispered low to Ragon.
"It refers to the year the blood source was born," Ragon said simply, in the same low whisper, but when he saw Bells confused face he added, "as in, the person who donated the blood was born in the 1980's. It doesn't mean how long the blood has been kept; blood doesn't keep well."
Bell nodded, thinking that her blood would be in that year range. The waiter bowed once and removed the glass nearest him and handed it to Clyde.
"Hmmm," Clyde said drinking deeply, "there is just something so appealing about this vintage," he added looking at Bell longingly as he drunk.
Next the waiter turned to face Bell, who had looked quickly away from Clyde.
"Err... No thanks," Bell said eyeing the red liquid haphazardly.
"Perhaps some juice then?" A cool female voice asked from behind her.
Bell and Ragon turned quickly to face Kiara. She was wearing a long black dress that split high to reveal two shapely thighs and a large pointed conical hat, with a broom held in one hand.
A witch, Bell though to herself, how fitting.
Ragon growled low in response, taking Bell hard by the elbow and directing her behind him, so that he now stood between the two. Bell had winced when Ragon had grabbed her; there would be a bruise there tomorrow.
"Would you mind fetching some wine?" Sandra asked the waiter, her thick honey voice breaking the tension in the room.
The waiter nodded once and left to fill the drink order.
"What's that doing here?" Kiara asked, indicating Bell.
Ragon growled again, advancing on Kiara but a voice from behind stopped him dead in his tracks.
"Ah Bell, so good of you to join our little suave," the male voice said.
Ragon didn't turn. He knew instantly from the voice who it was; "William," he whispered under his breath, so that only Bell could hear.
Bell turned to face William, who was flanked by another man, Nikolas she guessed. William wore a medieval knight's outfit, with a long red cape which covered most of a charcoal surcoat, accept for a large red tree in the centre. He skin was olive, and his dark hair reached his shoulders and matched the stubble which adorned his face. Next to him, Nikolas wore a full length white cloak with a large black cross in the middle. Most of his hair was covered by the white hood of the cloak, but Bell could just make out that it was reddish-brown. His eyes were hazel, and his skin was ghostly white, blending in almost perfectly with his robes, and contrasting against his thick moustache.
"I am William and this," he said indicating the man besides him, "is Nikolas."
"Thank you for inviting me," Bell responded automatically, unsure of what else to say.
"Yes we were all surprised and glad to be invited," Sandra said, moving over to the two elders and kissing them each on the cheek in greeting.
"Ahhh, Sandra, you look as lovely as ever, as do you Larissa" Nikolas commented.
"And Ragon, Cambridge, Thomas, Clyde and Sameth, you are most welcome," came William's voice.
Ragon nodded once, and Clyde smiled up at them, the blood from his drink staining his lips.
"I see you have seen that the lovely Kiara has also decided to grace us with her presence," William said, indicating the witch behind them.
Kiara smiled up warmly at the elders, and said, "yes. I was just suggesting that Bell here might prefer something else to drink."
Ragon knew that Kiara wouldn't risk abusing Bell and upsetting the elders at one of their parties; or at least not in front of them. Just then a tall elderly blonde woman waved at her, and she moved robotically away from the group saying, "excuse me," to the elders and bumping shoulders hard with Bell.
"Oh William," Nikolas said, touching his partner on the shoulder, "we are so rude. Forgive me child."
Bell went to speak, but just then the waiter reappeared with a glass of red wine and handed it to her.
"Oh Bernard," Nikolas said, moving over to the waiter and reaching for his IV, "what would we do without you?"
Starve? Bell though to herself, but quickly hid her smile. It was difficult for her not to think kindly of the elders. They were so far, the very element of gentlemen's, and had done nothing to warrant the fear the coven plainly felt; yet. For a moment Nikolas continued to suck on Bernard's extension set. Bell watched as Bernard looked back at the elder in awe. It was clear that he loved him, and it was also clear that Nikolas loved the taste of him.
"Now Ragon, this coven you have formed, I do hope that you are not responsible for the many mortal deaths that have been reported in the news of late. You know we are charged with keeping our existence a secret, I would hate to have to punish you," William said, his eyes raking Ragon from head to toe as if in admiration.
Up until now Bell had not been sure if William and Nikolas were partners, or lovers. Now as she watched William undress Ragon with his eyes, it was painfully obvious that they were both. She wondered what William might constitute as an adequate punishment for his killing 5 mortals, and shuddered. Sensual or not: it would not be good.
Ragon looked up and smiled, "no, I have heard about them though, 10 isn't it?" he lied.
"10 that they know about, we must have had to arrange cleaners to hide..." William said, looking at Nikolas for the answer.
Nikolas scoffed and said, "17," under his breath.
Bell wasn't too sure if Nikolas was angry about the number of mortal murders or the fact that William had spent so long drooling over Ragon.
"Indeed, 17; unheard of," William said in reply, and Ragon and Clyde exchanged a knowing look.
Instantly Bell felt uneasy. Ragon had killed 5, but who had killed the other 12?
"Still, vampires will be vampires," William said, "I trust that if you're coven hears of any unusual activity that you will permit us to investigate."
Ragon nodded in affirmation.
"Well, please enjoy the festivities," Nikolas said, before adding "there are some blood dipped apples that are simply to die for."
The elders walked off after that; Bernard following a little behind, as Nikolas continued to suck on the IV at his leisure.
Bell watched the elders go over to other groups of vampires. There were congregations of people standing around small tables, else draped at various points along the grand staircase or sitting outside. Looking more closely at the waiters, she realised that they had started bringing out plates of something other than goblets. Peering more closely at a plate offered to Larissa, Bell went pale. Each plate contained an assortment of blood based canapés.
"We have a mouth-watering assortment of Halloween goodies. There are warm Blood shots with shaved blood ice, spicy blood sausage, blood mouse topped with a blood crumple, candied blood-dipped apples, and for the vegetarians 100% grain feed bovine blood pies," the waiter said to Larissa.
"What is the outside of the pie made from?" Larissa asked, genuinely interested as she eyed the small morsels.
"A blood baked sheet scented with rosemary," the waiter replied.
"Hmm, I'll have the pie," Larissa said, reaching for the small dark red canapé.
Each of the coven members, reached for various canapés in turn, accept for Ragon. The look of horror on Bell's face had been enough to ruin his appetite.
As soon as Bell thought they were out of ear shot she rounded on the group.
"How my people have you killed?" she asked, her eyes scanning the 7 immortals, searching for signs of discomfort.
"Today or in general?" Clyde asked; his usually wicked smile failing as it met with Bell's worried face.
"Since you got here," Bell replied, unable to lose focus of her objective despite the uncertain faces that gleamed up at her, and Clyde's indifferent statement.
Sensing her concern, each replied quickly in turn saying "none," accept Ragon who looked around nervously and replied "you know how many."
If that were true than there were 12 people out there who had been killed by vampires not in this coven. Realising this Bell shivered.
"It's a big city," Sameth replied, "there are bound to be some causalities."
"Casualties that were all drained of blood?" Bell asked her face stuck in doubt.
Sameth considered her words for a moment but it was Ragon who replied, "vampires would know better than to leave corpses lying around," he finished.
"Ragon's right Bell," Sandra said, now rubbing her shoulder soothingly, "only in overpopulated cities do vamp slayings get noticed."
At these words Bell froze, as did Ragon. Normally Ragon kept a close eye on the comings and goings of the city, but since Bell had been with him his observation of the City's activities had gone on relatively unchecked. Did this mean that there was a large gathering of vampires in town?
"Perhaps it is because of the party?" Cambridge asked.
Ragon considered this, but dismissed it instantly. Tonight's party called for vamps in the area to attend, it did not drag other covens from far away. The elders were very careful to ensure that one area was not overpopulated, else the humans become suspicious.
"No." Ragon said quickly, "I think Bell is right, William and Nicholas would not invite so many guests that it alerted the human authorities."
"Then why are so many people being killed?" Bell asked.
The entire group stood in silence. Bells words had reflected their own thoughts; why were there so many vamps in town?
"We must be careful," Larissa said, "Clearly there are others here, especially if the elders are worried about all these murders."
After that half the group moved outside, while Cambridge and Larissa, and Sandra and Thomas moved to the dance floor. Ragon watched as the two couples began dancing to George Winston's 'New Orleans Slow Dance.' Instantly Ragon thought of Bell. He was desperate to get her alone and talk to her, though he knew that this overcrowded room of super hearing vampires was not the right place. Still, the temptation of holding her hand while dancing to this song was overwhelming. He made to move to her, but before he had so much as turned to face her...
"May I?" Clyde asked, bowing low to Bell and holding out his hand for her.
She hesitated for a moment but accepted. She didn't really want to dance; or rather she didn't really know how to dance. The moment however that Clyde had taken her by the hand, and placed his other hand at the small of her back, this changed. At the same time the song began and Clyde swept them over to the dance floor. Clyde directed her perfectly, and her straight posture and rhythmic acceptance of Clyde's directions, gave the pair a fluid motion. Each twirl Bell smiled, and the pair traced a route all around the dance floor, between the other vampire couples. Her white angel's costume and diamond mask sparkled majestically, portraying her as the picture of innocence.
The momentum of being twirled so many times had almost made Bell loose her balance, but Clyde whispered, "keep your eyes on something fixed."
After that she was lost in Clyde's honey coloured eyes. In that moment she didn't see the sarcastic, bad ass vampire; she just saw a boy dancing with a girl and for the first time she wondered why Clyde was so cold on the outside. All she knew for sure, as she allowed him to dip her low, before recalling her into his arms, was that she didn't know exactly how she felt about him.
"She is lovely," William commented to Ragon, looking over at Bell and Clyde dancing.
Ragon didn't reply; he was too mesmerised. Though Clyde partnered her, all he saw was her; an angel: gliding along the dance floor. In fact most of the vampires had stopped to admire Bell. Their hungry eyes locked on the large white wings of her costume; her human heart beat adding to her beauty and the beat of the music. But it wasn't her blood that they craved; in that moment, each recalled what it was to be human. Suddenly the frailty of being mortal flashed back them, reminding them of thoughts they had long since forgotten. Some thought of their first kiss, others of their first love. Each was locked in their own trance, inspired by Bell, and they watched in wonder; every turn bringing with it another wave of blissful mortal memories. Suddenly Ragon was pulled from his thoughts of Bell by someone tapping him on the shoulder.
"Would you dance with me?" Kiara asked.
Ragon glared up at her in disgust. Only she would ruin his admiration of Bell. He wanted to tell her exactly what he thought of her, but looking wearily at the elders he thought better of it. Reluctantly he nodded, taking Kiara by the wrist as they moved over to the dance floor. He did not want to upset the elders tonight.
Though Ragon danced with Kiara, he, like the rest of the vampires in the room watched Bell. Only Kiara was watching Bell with anger. It frustrated Kiara beyond belief that Ragon could find this mortal appealing. What was it about the girl that Ragon converted? Suddenly Kiara's eyes were small and suspicious, and Kiara's glare changed into a look of realisation. That small pointed chin and high cheek bones, her blue eyes; she had seen them many years before. For a moment she continued to stare at Bell in surprise and shock. Looking at the girl's face in recognition, she knew exactly why Ragon was with her. Only when Ragon stopped moving did she look away. She had been so consumed with her thoughts that she had not realised that the music had stopped. As soon as Ragon dropped her hand however, she looked once at Ragon and then swept from the room.
As soon as the song finished Bell caught her breath. She hadn't realised until then just how loud her heart had been hammering. She had failed to notice that almost every single vampire at the Halloween party had been staring at her.
"Bell honey, you were wonderful," Sandra said moving over to her and Clyde smiling before adding, "no accounting for taste though," after she looked at Clyde repulsed.
Bell smiled in reply. Suddenly she felt Clyde squeeze her hand, and she gasped pulling away.
Shit, she thought to herself. She had not even realised that she had still be holding his hand. Suddenly Bell's face was ablaze with embarrassment. Clyde made to say something to her, but Bell spoke first.
"Do you know where the bathroom is?" Bell asked moving to face Larissa.
"Just up the stairs and to the right," Larissa replied, and Bell raced off towards the grand staircase.
A few moments later and Ragon had joined Larissa and Clyde, who were deep in conversation.
"I thought dancing with you might make her sick," Larissa was saying.
Clyde was about to retort, but the presence of Ragon had made him startle. Clyde's first instinct was to say something sarcastic about having won the first dance, but then he cocked his head to one side, "I thought you were with... Where the hell is Kiara?"
Ragon looked around for a fraction of a second and asked, "Where the hell is Bell?"
In the bathroom Bell splashed cool water on her cheeks, hoping to relieve the burning sensation. She had to admit being in the estate of an elder gay vampire couple had really opened her eyes to classic home décor. The bathroom walls and floors were made of white sandstone, which contrasted drastically with the black shiny marble basins adorned by polished silver taps. There were three toilet cubicles, and a large white marble stand free bath tub that sat at the very edge of the room, adorned by a giant glass window. Reaching down again for the water she had filled in the basin, Bell splashed another handful onto her face and looked up at her reflection in the giant gold leaf boarded mirror. Her mask lay neatly besides her, but as she reached for it, a sound startled her.