"Leyla, come on. We are going to be late." Called Annie who had
been ready and waiting impatiently for her sister. Leyla took one
last glance out of her bedroom window and the snow covered
grounds that had a certain glow under the influence of moonlight
before joining Annie. It was Christmas Eve and they were going to
the church for a mass.
She had not felt well all day. The memory of last night party and the stranger by the stairs still occupied her mind. Physically, she was feeling drained and exhausted for no reason and although she had not felt that eccentric wind, but its effect had remained like imprints on her skin and once in a while she could sense like something was clawing her body. It was a terrifying feeling. The Duchess had wanted to send for doctor earlier but Leyla had refused. What could she say to the doctor to describe her problem and not look mad at the same time? Besides, it was not her body that was sick, it was her soul.
She had experienced a terrible night, her dreams full of images that even remembering them would release a wave of hotness within her, colouring her face in a sharp red in embarrassment. Sinful visions of a man, she could not see his face, but he was doing things to her that was exploding her body in pleasure.
Annie looked at her quiet sister as she shook her head, like she was trying to get ride of a disturbing thought in her mind. They were riding in the carriage together, but just like the night before, none of them was saying a word. Annie's mind was also occupied by the images of his recent suitors, all asking for her hand in marriage.
Unlike the last night, the sky had now cleared from clouds and the moon and its reflection on snow was absolutely breath taking. As they approached the old church, Leyla felt a familiar apprehension; the building always gave her a feeling of discomfort. The statues outside and the interior of the church with painted windows and engraved crosses usually conveyed a feeling of guilt, and tonight it was even worse. She remembered her forbidden dream and sighed.
"What is with you? You seem strange ever since we came back from Alwin's mansion." Leyla brought up her gaze just to be met by her sister's curious eyes.
"Nothing, I just have something on my mind." Leyla replied quickly, not wanting her sister to push her more.
But Annie was not one to give up easily.
"Is it that nice gentleman you were dancing with last night? I heard from Sir Richard that he is from a very good family, and he himself is wealthy. He is a general in the army and apparently is looking for a suitable wife."
Leyla preferred to stay quiet as her sister gossiped about the information she obtained on Henry, but her mind was filled with another vision. The honey coloured eye man.
The carriage finally stopped and they stepped out. The sound of music and people singing "It Came upon the Midnight Clear" indicated that they were already late so with no other words, they rushed inside. Leyla smiled to the familiar faces as they made their way to the first row, where had been their family's place forever. She caught a glimpse of Henry in his brilliant army suit, and nodded her head in a hello.
As they took their seats, Leyla senselessly repeated the words of the song, while her mind wondered away. She was standing stiffly when the chill returned; it blew under her skirt, touched her ankle and left a cold trail circling her body. She shivered slightly and looked around but no one else seemed bothered with the cold. She tugged her cloak firmly and crossed her arms but it did not help. It seemed as if the cold was breaching her skin and flesh and was attacking her bones underneath, caressing her inch by inch on the way. The mass finished without her remembering vicar's speech or the prayers they had said, but she was glad that it was over and she could now return to their house.
Then came the hardest part. As the ceremony ended, people came to wish them a merry Christmas and ask about her father's health. As always, Annie cherished the attention while Leyla stood silently with a fake smile painted on her face and nodded in response to the praises they received. She could not wait to get away from it all.
From the corner of her eyes, she saw Henry making his way towards them. Leyla unwillingly prepared herself to make a polite but sweet conversation with him, just as she had been taught by her mother. He seemed to be an eligible bachelor after all, and although Annie was older than Leyla, she never considered herself able to draw as many suitors as her sister to herself. Unlike most of the girls her age with the same status, she was realistic. Love was something she was longing for, but deep in her heart, she knew the chance of meeting a suitable man who loved her for herself and not Duke's title and the dowry he was going to give to his daughter, was very low.
Henry seemed educated with a good back ground and he was wealthy, so if he showed an interest in Leyla, she should at least give him a chance. Leyla's inviting beam suddenly changed as a sharp pain spread in her head and blurred her vision. She instinctively touched her forehead and frowned, as the throbbing continued inside her brain and disabled her ability to think. Then she heard a voice inside her mind.
"Come to me Leyla."
Hypnotised and unable to do anything else, she made her way through people towards the church entrance. She could not see clearly and was still rubbing her forehead to remedy the severe pain. Mumbling apologies to people she was bumping into, she heard Henry calling after her, but did not respond.
The moment she set foot outside the church the pain stopped. She gasped and took a moment to calm down and then slowly observed her surroundings. The familiar scenery of the church front yard looked breathtakingly beautiful and yet daunting under the spell of darkness and snow. Then she heard someone calling her name.
She turned and searched for the owner of the voice. There were people coming out of church to head home who were eyeing Leyla with a curious look, but none of them seemed to be calling her. She heard her name one more time and realised it was coming from the back of the grave yard, in the back of the building.
Desperate and confused, Leyla followed the call. Her mind was foggy, she was not thinking straight and all she wanted was to find the source of this strange feeling and make it stop. She took cautious steps on the fresh snow, slowly circling the church building. The sight of graveyard with various figurines above graves that were half covered under snow made her heart beat rise in fear. She stood and looked around, apart from ravens hanging around the graves she seemed to be alone.
The ominous birds started to crow and scared the poor girl half to death, she jumped and let out a scream and ran as fast as she could but her wobbly feet slipped on snow. She tried to grab a dried branch to prevent her from falling but the hard wood tore up her sleeve and scratched her delicate skin. Leila sobbed in pain but was too scared to stop running. She tried to gather herself and escape that god forsaken place but her sleeve was trapped by the dried branch. She pulled her arm but it seemed as invisible hands tugged the cloth to prevent her from leaving.
She jumped at the sound and turned just to see the stranger from the party standing behind her. He smiled kindly and without waiting for her reply, freed the fabric from the branch's grip. Leyla's pounding heart raced even more as he bent over her and reached for her sleeve. She immediately tightened her muscles in the hope of avoiding any contact but his hand brushed against her scarred arm. She shivered.
The burning pain in her arm drew her attention to the small wound, it was lightly bleeding. She let out a painful moan as a small drop of blood fell to the snow; the still warm liquid melted the icy snow flakes and painted a crimson circle on the pure white surface. It was small, and yet beautiful. Leyla watched as the honey inside the man's eyes darkened and his entire attention shifted to the stain on the pure snow, for a moment it was like he had forgotten about her presence completely. But then he turned to her.
"You have been hurt my lady, here, take this." He immediately took out a handkerchief and offered it to her and she took it with no word. She wanted to say something, to ask this man who he was and what he was doing here but she could not. Mesmerised by his charisma, she made another mistake and looked into his eyes and once again, she was drawn into them.
"Leyla, what are you doing here?"
They both turned and saw Annie's suspicious eyes fixed on them.
" I… I fell and this gentleman was helping me out." Leyla explained, embarrassed and self conscious, she noticed once again that she did not even know this gentleman's name.
"Miss Wilmer, please accept my apologies for not introducing myself before, I am prince Sami." He said lightly, as he took Annie's hand and planted a kiss on it. Annie's expression visibly changed to shock and delight and a smile opened up her brilliant ruby lips.
"Prince, you said?" she asked with curiosity and enthusiasm. The man smiled back and his eyes turned to Leila.
"I am a Persian prince. It actually sounds more glamorous than it really is. My father was the king's son, one of many actually, so I have been given the title because of my grandfather."
Annie and Leyla listened in astonishment. Leyla was stunned, he was a prince? What was he doing here, in England? Annie seemed to read her mind.
"Forgive me for asking, but what are you doing in our country?"
His eyes never left Leyla's.
" I have a business acquaintance around here who suggested that I should visit this place, he said it is a piece of heaven on earth and I can see that he did not exaggerate." His longing gaze shamelessly drank Leila's figure. She blushed.
"We will have the biggest party of the season on New Year's Eve at our mansion. It will be a great pleasure if you could come." Leyla's eyes widened in surprise, what was her sister thinking inviting this stranger to their house? What would Duchess say?
Annie, however, seemed to be mesmerised by the prince. Her beautiful blue eyes had a certain glow and her face was flushed in excitement of meeting an attractive man that could be another suitor in her list.
"It will be an honour. I certainly accept your invitation." He bowed his head gracefully and gave a knowing glance to Leila, as if he was saying I would see you again, I would be there to play with your mind and occupy your dreams. Leila wished she could protest, to tell her sister that surely their mother would not approve of this invitation and they should ask her first, but no word escaped her trembling lips.
They needed to leave. The man kissed Annie's hand once more and smiled warmly to Leyla before bidding a goodbye and disappearing into darkness. On the ride home, Annie blabbed excitedly about the mystery prince as Leyla listened in silence. She could not understand what was happening to her but after tonight's events, for the first time in her life, she felt the bitterness taste of jealousy in her throat. She was envious of her sister.
It was not until they reached their mansion that Leila noticed the handkerchief she still had crumples in her hand. Careful, not to alarm her sister, she took it to her room and for the first time, took a look at it. It was tasteful and classy, and apart from her blood stain that now had smeared it, it was clean. But there was something else, despite its luxurious appearance, it looked very old. She touched the fabric and shamefully inhaled its delicious scent. As her mind filled with the images of a mysterious man, she closed her eyes to sleep.
She has made me break my rules tonight. My sweet innocent Leyla. I know I should not manipulate her mind, but I could not help it. The temptation of seeing her and feeding of her fear and purity was too high to ignore. I enjoyed standing in the darkness and watching her petrified, taking pleasure in knowing that in a moment, I would be the one who would rescue her. A girl must love a hero, especially if it is a dark, mysterious prince.
I wanted to give her another taste of myself but her sister interrupted us. I know that last night, she was dreaming of me, of my love, I could see it in her eyes that I am slowly fogging her mind. Soon she will only sleep longing for my touch, I will be like a poison in her blood and she will be addicted to me. Then there is only the matter of time until she is here, in this cottage, pleading to be mine.
Her sister's sudden presence ruined my special plans for tonight,
the girl might be a beauty, but I recognize her kind anywhere.
They are always after men with titles and money. Her brilliant
blue eyes sparkled in pleasure as I told them who I was. She
shall receive a lesson from me later, her blood might not be as
sweet and pure as Leila's, but it is enriched by an element with
a ravishing taste, vanity.
I smile by remembering their faces as I told them who I was. I had to control my urge not to tell Leila my real name, after all, it has been centuries since the last time I heard anyone called me "Vlad". I have to move from one area to another for my safety and each time, I adopted a new identity from a different country. This time, I am Persian.
I will let her know the whole truth once she is lying in my arms. We will have years for me to tell her my life story, to recount the tale of my loneliness that would finally end with her presence but for now, I have no choice but to deceive her.
I hear a slow moan, my new prey is gaining consciousness, and time is running out. I usually do not hunt from the area I reside in but tonight, I am desperate. She left me aroused and instigated, so I had to find someone to extinguish my burning lust. This poor soul is just a village girl in shabby clothes and dirt covered hair, but despite the calluses on her hands and burn marks on her body, I can smell her sweet blood.
She opens her eyes and realises she is in an unfamiliar place. I had to bring her to my cottage because it will be less messy this way. It takes her a moment to see me in a corner and her eyes widens in fear. I reach her before she screams and put my finger on her dried lips.
She is shocked but then I take control of her mind. It does not take long until I know for sure that she will not scream, unless in pleasure. As the dawn comes, I take one last look at her cold body and get ready for sleep. She seems more beautiful now, her body seems paler now that it is drained of blood and yet, there is a delightful shade of red on her cheeks as a result of ecstasy she has experienced.
I crawl to my coffin and close my eyes but the last vision I have before I drift to sleep is of Leila's ruby coloured blood on the snow.
Here is another chapter, I hope you enjoy reading this, thanks to everyone who left comments and voted on the last chapter. I would love to receive your feedbacks and see what you think, so please let me know how I can improve.