Bridget's Days Ch. 03bypatricia51©
(Cadiz, Spain, 1805)
In today's movies, and in the romantic tales before them running all the way back to Homer, the hero or heroine never spends hours in the dripping rain. Cold, wet and miserable are simply glossed over in favor of thrills and romance. Just because I'm a vampire doesn't mean I WANT to be out in the cold and damp instead of toasting in front of a nice, warm fire with my feet up. I pulled my cloak closer around me, waiting for whoever, or whatever was going to show up for this little assignation I was waiting for.
I had been lurking in the shadows of the wharfs of this old port city for months now. Life had not been completely uncomfortable during my wait. Months before, I had found an old deserted pier with a ramshackle warehouse that was secure enough for me to use as a base of operations as well as a refuge from the sun. The docks alone held such a transit and busy population that I could feed as needed without having to take undue risks or worry about seriously harming anyone.
So why was I stuck here, now, tonight? Well, that was a long story. Following the encounter I had with a sadistic, insane Countess I had fled Paris. When the revolution broke out, I kept a close eye on it. Originally I was sympathetic. What I had observed over the years of the political and economic situation in France, all I could think about was "it was about damn time". Besides, I'm Irish. Rebellion lurks in our hearts.
When "The Terror" commenced in Paris I changed my mind. No matter what the ruling classes of France had done, and I had enough personal experience to know how corrupted they were, they didn't deserve what happened to them. Nor did the innumerable common folk who were swept up and sent to their deaths on nothing more than secret accusations.
By the time Robespierre went to the guillotine, I had already made arrangements to get out of France into Spain. Of course eventually the French army caught up to me again when they occupied Spain. A few years later Napoleon even named his brother King. Must be nice. Of course I've outlived pretty much any monarch I've ever seen. Its better now, but at one time it was a pretty unsafe profession.
I had been making plans to get to America, but the outbreak of the continent wide war stifled any chance of that. Even when the French were masters of Europe, the English fleet's blockade kept their ships in port. An occasional blockade runner might slip back and forth to the West Indies and other locations, but I didn't intend to take the chance of being dragged on deck on a beautiful sunny day for inspection as contraband. So I settled down to wait things out, slowly moving farther south until I reached my present location.
I'm Irish, Irish to the core of my soul. I had been raised to consider the English as brutal invaders of my beloved country, bent only on the subjugation of my race and the extermination of my religion. Well, I hadn't found the Catholic countries any more tolerant. I'd seen too many people butchered in the name of God and his son. I still prayed for the freedom of my homeland, but I no longer hated England. In fact, the more I saw of first the Directorate and then the Empire, the more I felt my sympathy lean towards Britain.
How and where I must have given this away I don't know to this day. Obviously I had though, because one rainy evening I discovered a note had been tucked into my cloak when I left a tavern I frequented. I did like Spanish brandy.
For once in my "life" I had been coming as a customer rather than as an employee to a tavern. I had cut my hair shorter and was dressing as a male, something I did frequently over the centuries. My breasts aren't very big, but I am endowed enough that I strapped them flat. I'm not equipped to grow a beard so I was passing as a young fisherman or dockworker using the name of "Brian". Inwardly I was amused to find that this passing didn't cut down in the slightest the number of sexual offers I was receiving. Apparently cute boys were in great demand with a certain percentage of the sailors. One ship's captain was so enamored of me as a young man he offered me a sizable bonus to ship aboard his next voyage. The sizable bonus he pressed against my ass was rather tempting too. However I wasn't sure he would react happily to the discovery I was a female. Once again, it was not something I was willing to risk.
Sometime I must have blurted something that a British agent overheard. That evening when I took off my cloak in my hidden quarters my hand found a folded piece of paper. Wondering if it was another offer from Captain Ramirez, I opened it.
The first surprise was that it was written in English rather than Spanish. The second was its contents. It read: "I know who, and what you are. I propose you meet me on the southernmost wharf at midnight on Saturday night."
Well THAT got my attention alright. I was sorely tempted to see if Captain Ramirez was indeed willing to pay a cabin boy as much as he had offered, which offer included the feather bed in his quarters. If the note was serious, if someone really knew "what" I was, than Spain was not the place I wanted to be. They had lots of experience burning humans at the stake, much less vampires.
For some reason though, I was more intrigued than worried. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because the note didn't sound threatening. There was no "or else". Call me curious. When you live forever you tend to seize on unusual incidents. It breaks the monotony. So that Saturday night I was lurking where an old grounded hulk threw shadows over the splintered lumber of an abandoned dock, secure in the knowledge no one could sneak up on me.
I do so get tired of being wrong about those things. A firm touch on my right shoulder almost sent me out of my skin. I cast off my cloak in preparation for a fight. My preternatural night vision revealed one figure. As startled as I was, my fangs dropped and my eyes glowed as I shed my human appearance.
"Oh stop hissing at me like that," a calm male voice with an English accent remarked. "I can do that too if I want. As far as I can sense, no one else is watching but let's not be too obvious as to exactly who you are, Bridget O'Brien. I don't see you wanting to be the guest of honor at an auto-da-fe."
"Who, I mean, what," I hate stammering, but I had been caught completely off guard. I tried to pull myself together. I took a deep breath. I know its unnecessary, but the psychological influence of doing that is even calming to the undead. "Who are you and what do you want?"
"I am Robert, Roberto if you want to remain in character. And what I want is you. Come on." He turned and glided away.
I shook my head, breaking the paralysis that gripped me. I scurried down the dock after him, following him. After catching up to him, I walked by his side without any additional discussion. We wound our ways through the old streets until we reached a non-descript inn. Passing through the common room without stopping we mounted the stair on the wall and finally emerged in a well-appointed and comfortable room.
Robert tossed his cloak on a chair. He walked to a sideboard and returned with two glasses and a bottle. "I understand you like brandy." He half-filled the glasses and handed me one. "Please, sit down," he invited as he returned the bottle to its place and settled himself on a couch, warming the brandy with the friction of his hands.
I swirled the liqueur in my own glass, enjoying the aroma before I took a sip. I took the opportunity to study my new companion over the rim of the glass. He was over six feet, much taller than most men of that period were. His fashionable dress did nothing to hide the fact that he was well-muscled and his movements hinted at speed and strength. Of course, if he was indeed what he claimed to be, like me, he would be fast and strong beyond human abilities.
"Very good," I tried to be casual as I took a second sip of my drink.
"The brandy? or me?" Robert leaned back, obviously well aware of my scrutiny.
"Both actually." I was determined to be as relaxed as he was. Then I gave in. "Okay, so I'm a little too volatile to make clever repartee. As nice as all this, including you, is, I would like to know what is going on."
He sighed. "Your first two hundred years haven't taught you patience it seems. Oh well, hopefully you will learn it eventually. I was much too headstrong and rash when I was that young myself."
I was tempted to give him the "I don't know what you're talking about" speech. To Hell with it. Verbal fencing was something I enjoyed at times but right now I wanted to cut to the chase. "That's great. I'm sure you were really something at that young age. Now then, assuming that we are alone here, and I don't smell any humans, lets be frank. I'm a vampire, you're a vampire and what do you want?"
"I already told you," he returned impatiently. "I want YOU. Not sexually," he raised his hand to cut off any rejoinder I was about to make, "But as a fellow agent for the British crown. Now before you protest how much you hate England, I know better. You might not love it, but you know that Ireland under English rule, as bad as I must acknowledge that is has been at times, is better off than it would be under the Corsican."
I shrugged, acknowledging his point without agreeing with it. "And if I don't? What happens then?"
"Nothing." He returned my surprised look with one of his own. "Do you expect consequences? Why? I don't expect you to go to authorities you don't care for and turn me in as an English spy. Forcing you is hardly an option. You'd simply slip away one night."
"Well then, what's in it for me? I really don't need money, although I have no objections to getting paid."
Robert stood up and walked up to me. "How about something exciting, something adventurous, to pass the time? Something that needs doing? And how about I add the promise of a safe passage to America aboard a British warship at the end of this war?" He grinned at my surprise. "I've been watching you for sometime Bridget. I know that's where you want to go. I know quite a lot about you."
"Oh, what the hell. Why not?"
"I cannot tell you of the thrill I receive at your excitement. My heart could almost beat at the fervor, the passion, you demonstrate."
I rolled my eyes. I was to learn that Robert often talked like that. Eventually I was to finally decide that he did it just to drive me up a wall. Nothing like starting a two hundred year habit off right.
"So what is it you want me to do?" I inquired. Then, as a vagrant thought struck me, "And what do you mean you don't want me sexually?"
"I want you to keep your eyes and ears open. That's all. Listen to the gossip about shipping and blockade runners. Listen to the officers and the crewman from the Spanish ships. Back in April I received word the French fleet had sortied from Toulon. Sooner or later they are going to try to meet with the Spanish fleet. It may be here. I want to know all about that. I can get information to the inshore British frigate watching the harbor and it can get word to Lord Nelson."
He turned away and walked back to the sideboard. "As for your undoubtable sexual charms, I'm attracted to women only, 'Brian'. If you're going to continue to pass as a cabin boy than you need to stick with ass buggerers." He turned around. "You look like a fish, your mouth is opening and closing but no words are coming out. Your fangs are showing too. And not just the ones we have."
I closed my mouth, which had indeed been flapping in the breeze while I struggled for a crushing reply. That reply, of course, occurred to me about 5 weeks later, by which time it was pretty useless. Instead, I hammered out an agreement with him on how to contact him and how I was going to get paid. He gave probably more than he intended, being, I suspected, a bit embarrassed by his remarks.
I snooped, I pried. I sat on Captain Ramirez's lap, wiggled some and still managed to escape being bent over the chests in his cabin. He had recently moved ashore and received a promotion. He was now in charge of arranging for the resupplying of ships. That didn't keep him too busy. I was able to pick up a lot of information and pass it to Robert.
The climax began one evening I woke up to discover the harbor was full of ships. The combined French and Spanish fleet had anchored. I was sure Robert was able to see that himself so I didn't rush to him with the information. Instead I worked my usual haunts. I gathered what I could from the crowds of sailors before I slipped away to Robert's rooms.
"What do you have, Bridget?"
"The fleet is in sorry condition, Robert. The ships have suffered a lot of storm damage from their trek to the West Indies and then to the Channel. The crews are riddled with sickness. Even with this last voyage, Admiral Villeneuve is aware the state of training is very poor and his ships are no match for the British fleet. Still, from what I understand, he would give battle if cornered. He would have no choice. Napoleon apparently believes he can win a sea battle."
Robert snorted. "Thank you Bridget. Keep watching. And be careful."
The night of October 20th was the breaking point. Too absorbed in gathering information, I allowed myself to end up alone with Captain Ramirez. I had been plying him with wine in an attempt to loosen his tongue. He had been plying me with brandy in an attempt to loosen my britches. Tipsy or not, when I made one more attempt to avoid him, he turned angry.
"You cock teaser. I've had enough of your ways. You've been leading me on for months. Well, tonight I will have that little ass of yours." He back-handed me across the face, with a force and now unsuppressed lust that even stunned me for an instant. Then he was on me, attempting to tear off my clothes and free himself from his britches. He shoved his raging cock between my ass cheeks and ground it savagely against me, meanwhile pounding my head against the wall and grunting incoherently.
I almost, almost, gave in. I've never been a prick tease and I HAD really come on to him a lot. But the final line is; I don't like being raped. It angers me. And at a certain point, my anger overcomes me. I lost control of myself.
With one thrust of my arms I threw him across the room. I should have fled then. But I was overcome with rage and I launched myself on him in full vampire fury. He didn't even have time to scream before I had sunk my fangs in his neck. Before I could regain the slightest semblance of self control, he was dead.
I didn't often kill, not like that. Over 400 years of unlife, I killed more than I want to remember, but generally I didn't take pleasure in it. Under other circumstances, I might have let the guilt wash over me and paralyze my actions. Tonight I couldn't afford that luxury. I scampered to get Ramirez's body covered and the floor cleaned up. Before I lowered his body through the window I went to darken the room. My eyes fell on the papers on his desk and I rapidly read through them before snuffing the lanterns.
After winding a handy piece of chain-shot around the body and then dropping it off the end of a quiet pier, I hurried to Robert's. I knocked frantically on the door until he opened it, allowing me to stagger inside.
"Villeneuve is planning to sortie in the morning," I quickly gasped out what had happened that night and what I had read in the papers on the desk.
"Are you sure?" When I nodded, he continued. "Stay here. They may be looking for you. I trust you were careful coming here." He snatched a cloak from a hook and wrapped himself in it. "I have to go out. If someone does come looking for you, hide here." He showed me a tiny secret room behind the fireplace. He paused for a moment and suddenly squeezed my shoulder. "I'll be back." Then he was gone.
I stood in the room for uncounted minutes, my mind attempting to keep itself blank. Finally I moved to fire up the stove and heat water for a bath. I stripped and washed myself, carefully cleansing my body, paying particular attention to my face and hands. Finished, I dried myself off. I didn't want to put my old outfit back on, and a quick search of Robert's closets failed to produce any woman's clothing. I finally pulled a long-sleeved silk shirt over my head and tugged it down. Given Robert's height, it sufficed to cover the parts of me that needed covering.
Morning had almost arrived before he returned. I had sat looking at the dead ashes in the fireplace since my bath. I held a glass of brandy in my hands. He sat next to me on the couch, not speaking at first.
"That won't solve anything Bridget." he finally said quietly.
"Oh, I know. This is still the first glass I poured myself. I thought about getting drunk, really drunk, but I decided that would lessen the guilt I feel and I don't want that."
"What guilt?" Robert looked at me with an expression that combined sympathy and exasperation.
"Robert, I KILLED him. Deliberately. I was so filled with rage that all I wanted to do was rip his throat out. I can't even hide behind the fact that I was hungry. I just wanted him dead. Feeding was an unconscious afterthought."
"So what? Bridget, he tried to rape you."
"But I led him on. I gave him unspoken but implied hints that I wanted to have sex with him. And I might have except for the fact he thought I was a young man. I enticed him and then I turned him down. I deserved to have been raped."
Robert uttered a deep, very pungent comment. I sat up in surprise. "You didn't 'deserve' to be raped, be it as Brian or Bridget. You were foolish, perhaps, to put yourself in that position, but when a maid or a young man says 'NO', then the answer is 'no'. I realize you may have led him on but that doesn't change the fact that he attacked you and you defended yourself."
I heard Robert's words and understood them. But that was only a part of what troubled me. I faced Robert.
"Its not just that. From the night I awoke in that tomb after the change I have struggled to control myself. Damnit, I'm still ME, Bridget the daughter of Michael and Mary O'Brien. Or at least I want to be. I'm terrified that I'll become what all the legends describe us as, a cold-blooded killer, indifferent to the sufferings I cause. I've lost myself in vengeance before." I could not stop the tears that burst forth as I recalled the killing of Ramirez. "I don't want to be a murderer."
Robert's arms were around me and he gently rocked me. "Bridget, I understand." When I had cried myself out, he stroked my hair and continued. "Bridget, I've been a vampire for 500 years. Sometimes I've killed. I am capable of it and so are you. You are a killer, but," he shushed my protests, "You are not a murderer. Killing in defense of yourself or someone else is not murder.' He tipped my face up and kissed me, very gently. "Now," he slipped out of my arms and helped me stretch out on the couch, "Go to sleep." He covered me and kissed me again, on the cheek this time.
When I awoke, it was dark again. Robert was at the table, his head bowed over a pile of papers. He must have sensed my stirring, for he turned around and looked at me. He rose and left the room, returning with a cup of steaming tea.
"You look rather pleased with yourself."
"Its been a very good day," he replied. "Lord Nelson destroyed the combined French and Spanish fleets. The ships that were not taken have fled into the harbor here. There will no longer be a threat of invasion for Britain itself."
"Well, I'd say that sounds like a good thing." I accepted the tea and rose from the couch, discarding the blanket I had been sleeping under as I walked to the sideboard. I proceeded to spike the tea with a generous dollop of brandy and downed it in one gulp. I turned as I heard Robert laugh.