I hope you all enjoyed Mistress Willow’s story … here comes one of my making!
He’d left Montreal when the sun was still glimmering on the horizon. It had cost him dearly, and the pain had been enormous, but worth it to keep his head. His Sire, Jacques, had been found guilty of treason, and the Prince of the city had him beheaded during the Night Court. He’d known it would only be a matter of hours before his own head would be on the block, and sure enough, the death squad had been dispatched. It had been his own paranoia, combined with his Sire’s warning about the ambitions of the Prince, that led him to bed down elsewhere than his usual haunt. He’d woken before the sun had set and moved through what few shadows existed to a hiding spot that gave him a view of where he’d usually have been. The brightly burning flames danced against the light purple sky, and he watched as five of the Prince’s squad slithered into the shadows at the opposite side of the building. That had been … he couldn’t even recall … a week? Perhaps a month ago? There was no way for him to tell time any longer. Hunger drove him to feed when he could, and then he’d sleep until the next sunrise. Sometimes it was two days before he rose, while other times, it was barely twelve hours.
He’d arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, two nights ago. At first, he’d thought to keep going and stop elsewhere, but starvation and exhaustion won out over his argument, and he’d tucked himself into a small cave near the coast. Salem was notorious for its unique laws and understanding of the supernatural. Witches, Lycans, and Vampyres stood shoulder-to-shoulder and ruled as a council over the area. Jacques had told him while he was still a Fledgling vampire, to heed the laws of Salem, should he ever find himself within its boundaries. Ivan Zimanov himself would stake you out for the sun if he caught you breaking the rules. The first night, he’d remained within his cave, hoping to have the strength to move on before anyone realized he was here, but that was quickly becoming a false hope. Hunger was gnawing at him, and he knew he’d have to feed. The question was, where could he feed, and would it break any laws?
As the sun blinked away on his second night, the aroma of mulled cider drew him from his hiding place. It wasn’t anyone in particular, but the scent hung in the air like a perfume. As he exited the dark, he took note there were hundreds of people surrounding him, and each smelled more delicious than the last. He could feel his fangs throbbing in his mouth as he wandered among them, and he considered more than one to be an acceptable snack before he caught wind of something … wild. He turned his head towards the scent and found himself staring into what could only be described as blue-haired chaos.
She smelled of life and death, flowers and moss, chaos and creation. He couldn’t explain why he followed her, other than to say his soul was compelled. She was petite in stature, but something about her swallowed everything in her surroundings. He couldn’t see her face, but the rest of her was an orchestra of beauty. He wanted to devour her and be devoured by her. He was mindless of the path as he followed her, consumed by the aroma of fruit and wood, water and warmth, chaos and creation. A few times, she disappeared from his view, only to blink back into existence a breath later, and he began to suspect she was playing a game with him. He inched his way closer to her, through the throngs of humans that now seemed as appetizing as dust, and quickly saw she was within reach. He realized this because he caught himself actually reaching, only to snatch his hand back at the last second.
“Idiot!” He berated himself silently, knowing that Jacques would have cursed him for something so dangerous. The entire walk was risky, but he couldn’t stop himself from following her. The way moonlight illuminated the blue lengths of hair streaming down her back seemed hypnotic, and the sound of her steps against the cobblestone had a steady beating, like that of a human heart. With each turn, down this street or that, he knew they were drawing further from the humans, and he began to suspect she was … other. Not a vampire, of that he was sure, but something else that seemed just as ethereal. For what seemed like miles, or it could have been only seconds, he followed her every step. The aroma of mulled cider gave way to the scent of the ocean, and he felt a breeze against his skin. She’d stopped walking, and he melted in with the shadows of the giant ship they were near.
“I know you’re there, so you may as well come out. The shadows only hide so much,” the woman called out. Her voice was deep, resonating in her chest, but the tone was teasing and friendly. When he didn’t move, she called out a second time.
“No one will hurt you, I promise. I saw you come out of the tunnels, and I can practically hear your teeth chattering against one another. It’s safe, and you can feed here.”
He moved slowly out of the shadow and looked at her face for the first time. She looked like the women he’d seen on posters advertising Hawaii, with her golden-hued skin and dark features. He stepped closer at her warm, inviting smile, and once again, the scent of flowers overpowered everything.
“What’s your name?”
He struggled for a moment as he tried to remember when she’d gotten close enough that he could see the red hue of her eyes, but when her arms wrapped around his shoulders to pull him close, the feeling of warmth suffused every atom in his body. He had no reason to feel so trusting, save that she seemed to know who he was, and was offering to let him feed. His fangs elongated as he turned his head towards her neck, and the scent of plumeria mingled with the coppery smell of bloo-
His last thought was of Jacques, and that he should have listened and passed the city of Salem in the night. His final vision was of the woman, no longer a young girl, but a wizened elder with stark white hair and eyes the color of rubies, licking his blood from her fingertips.
Lea glanced across the room at Melanie, who was braiding her hair before going out for the night.
“And what are you noping, my dearest darling?”
“Wouldn’t happen. Not in a million years would that happen, especially not here in Salem,” Melanie’s tone was teasing, and she was fighting against a smile.
“How do you know?”
“I live here.”
“I meant how do you know that would never happen? Are you suddenly an expert on all things supernatural? How do you know a stranger wouldn’t come to the city and be led astray by a beautiful woman, thinking that he’s the predator?”
“No. That part, I believe.”
“Then what wouldn’t happen?”
“You and I both know you can’t get away from tourists in Salem by going to the Wharf unless it’s in the middle of a blizzard.”
Both women managed a straight face for a millisecond before dissolving into laughter that echoed through the house. Lea stood and made her way across the room to embrace and kiss Melanie forehead.
“Have a good time tonight, my angel. Stay out of trouble, yes?”
“Of course. I shall try not to lead any men to their untimely deaths by walking near Pickering Wharf.”
Twenty minutes later, Lea was still giggling when she walked into the root cellar under the house and ran her fingers over the chilled flesh of her latest snack. If only Melanie were old enough to know the truth, then she could share this with her. Until then, however …
Lea was still licking the taste of his blood from her teeth as she climbed into bed near dawn. She was lucky to have a career that enabled her to remain asleep during the day, thus avoiding any suspicions as to why she only came outside at night. And romance novels about vampires were all the rage this century!