Dark and Dawn

Lily never seems to be in control of her own life. She has been promised to another man, but she is in love with a vampire. A creature of the night. Their love is dangerous, and it plunges her life into darkness. Will Lily ever be free Can she really trust anyone, let alone herself?

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1. A New Life

Although that day was just like any other day, she couldn’t stand it any longer.

Slowly touching her blushed cheek with a cold, slippery ice cube, she flinched. Tiny streams of water ran down her fingers as she hesitantly pressed the cube against the source of the pain. The pain her father had caused her. She knew that he felt no remorse for what he had done. She knew that all he wanted was money, even though he was the richest man in town. It was the only thing that mattered to him.

“You will do as I say!” Those were his words when he had slapped her with the might of a whip.

Looking in the mirror she saw nothing but emptiness. She used to be a warm, vibrant and rosy-cheeked girl, but now she was only a pale shadow of herself. Her name was Lily Whitlocke. Locked in her room there was no escaping her fate. She was promised to another man. A stranger she hardly knew. Although she’d only just turned 17, her life had already been taken away from her.

Letting the ice cube fall to the floor with a low thud, she walked over to the window and looked up at the stars that covered the night sky. It was so dark in her room that their light seemed to illuminate her lithe figure. She was waiting for his arrival; the love of her life. If only that love wasn’t so hopelessly impossible yet so desperate at the same time. The person she loved, the only person who’d ever shown her comfort, was a vampire. His name was Dimitri Blackburne.

Slowly reaching out for the handle, she removed the lock and opened the window with a gentle push. Gazing out into the empty darkness with eyes glittering from unshed tears, Lily felt anxious for what was to come. Would this be the last night?

She could still remember the first. It was like nothing she could have ever imagined.

It was the night of the annual masquerade. Her father had been put in charge of arranging the festivities at the Whitlocke mansion. Despite his stingy nature, he really had gone out of his way to make it the most luxurious masquerade ever. Even Lily was given attire which would suit royalty. The dress had been made with a lilac coloured satin which gave off a beautiful shine, even in darkness. It was the most beautiful dress she had ever worn.

The whole mansion was lively with music and dancing. Lily saw the place in a whole new light. There was so much happiness. So much life. It was magnificent. She almost forgot that her father was sitting right next to her. Several men came to their table to offer her a dance, much to her delight, but her father, however, would not allow it.

Slowly, Lily began to feel anxious having to sit stiffly by her father's side. She wanted desperately to join in on the festivities. She wanted to feel what it would be like to dance, wondering if it would make her just as happy as the people down on the ballroom floor.

Suddenly, another man approached. He wore a golden mask that covered the entirety of his face, but Lily couldn't help but notice his piercing blue eyes. He bowed to her gracefully and turned his attention to her father.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Whitelocke. You truly are the pride of this town."

He spoke with perfect articulation. It almost seemed as if he had practised this line, over and over again. Her father looked intrigued.

"Lord Chadwick, I presume?" He asked, slightly bemused.

Lily looked up inquisitively. She'd never heard of Lord Chadwick, but he had truly caught the attention of her father.

"Yes." He chuckled.

Lily was so concentrated on the stranger, that she nearly jumped when her father put his hand on her shoulder.

"Lily,"  He said, "You may go now. Enjoy the rest of the party."

She stared at him with wide eyes, and rose very slowly from her seat, afraid that he might change his mind at any moment. He was acting very strange all of a sudden as if he had some kind of purpose. Curtseying to them both with her eyes glued to the floor, she walked away. She was free.

At first, she didn't know what to do or where to go. There were so many people. So many curious eyes staring. So many voices and quiet whispers all intermingled with the music. It seemed too loud and too confusing. It was the first time she'd ever been amongst so many people at once. She felt heat rush to her cheeks as she blushed, feeling very self-conscious all of a sudden. She needed fresh air.

Subtly, she made her way towards the doors that led out to the gardens. With a quick glance towards her father, who was now clearly in a deep conversation with Lord Chadwick, she pushed the door open.

Lily sighed with relief as she was met by the cool night air. The door shut gently behind her. Though she could still hear the loud bustling of people talking, with the music playing in the background, it felt so quiet outside in the darkness. She felt at peace. Lifting the dress above her ankles, she walked over the grass towards a more secluded spot in the garden, where there was a little stone bench to sit on.

As she sat down on the cold stone, she realised how very lonely it was, sitting there by herself in the gloomy darkness of the night. Although she could barely see, she did not fear the dark. She welcomed it. It was like a blanket keeping her safe from intruding stares. The stories of vampires and other creatures of the night always warned people never to go out alone. Safety was such as fleeting experience for her, however, it made her feel bold. Surely, nothing could be worse than that of her father's wrath. Looking up at the stars, she revelled in their beauty.

All of a sudden, everything became quiet. The music had stopped. There was not even the whistle of the wind or the rustling of leaves. It was too quiet. It was almost as if there was a void. Suddenly, she felt a creeping sensation in the back of her neck. It was as if someone was watching her. With an abrupt compulsion, she put her arms around herself protectively. It wasn’t much help. The darkness almost seemed to close in on her, the void growing ever bigger. Her breaths came out in quick burst. She couldn't move. Suddenly, it got even darker. Someone was standing behind her.

“Don’t be afraid.”

That voice did not belong to someone of this world. It was the most beautiful voice she had ever heard. Strangely enough, it seemed soothing and kind. Lily turned around, all her fear evading her.

Standing before her, was a man of inhuman splendour. His countenance was gentle, though his eyes were a deep crimson glow. His skin was so pale; it was almost as if it reflected the light from the moon. Draped over his shoulder was a long black cape that somehow seemed to swallow the darkness.

Lily was awestruck.

“Who are you?”

The man smiled at her warmly but Lily flinched when she saw his lips part. In place of his upper canines, were two fangs.

“My name is Dimitri Blackburne,” he said as he bowed to her gracefully.

Lily had to swallow as she composed herself.

“What are you?”, she whispered.

Dimitri held out his hand to her, and her heart nearly skip a beat as she instinctively reached out for it. She stopped herself mid-air. Her fingers were within inches of his. They were much longer than she’d anticipated, and they were eccentrically toned in such a way, one might think he was a master pianist. She couldn’t help herself as she extended her hand those last few inches. Curiosity and wonder overcame her.

Dimitri took a step back, leading her into a stand. He held her hand so gently; it was as if he was holding porcelain. Though it was cold to the touch, she hardly noticed it.

“Look into my eyes”, he murmured softly.

Lily wanted to resist but somehow she raised her head without willing it, to gaze into his mesmerizing crimson eyes. She couldn’t look away.

“What do you see?”

At first, Lily didn’t know what to say, but then she felt herself being pulled into the depths of those eyes as if she was diving into a deep pool of blood. It was dizzying, yet she didn’t lose her balance. Despite the menacing colour, the eyes became warm and welcoming. A sense of serenity surrounded her as she was pulled deeper and deeper into the pool. There was nothing to be afraid of. He was good. She could feel it. Never in her life had she felt so safe. It was a liberating experience.

“I see a kind heart”, she sighed contently.

Dimitri smiled warmly at her yet again, but this time she wasn’t intimidated by the fangs. It was a genuine, good smile.

“To answer your question,” he began as he laid her hand on his arm, “I am a being of the night. Your kind calls us vampires”.

“I’ve never met a vampire before,”

“I am glad you haven’t”, Dimitri chuckled darkly as they walked out onto a little path.

Lily smiled wryly.

“I presume you must be Whitlocke’s only daughter.”

She nodded, slightly surprised.

“Yes, I’m Lily.”

“Lily,” Dimitri repeated her name with tender delicacy, “Such a beautiful name.”

Blushing, she looked down in embarrassment.

“Why were you out here in the darkness, all by yourself?” He sounded concerned.

“I needed some fresh air. My father, well, he- he just won’t let me have any freedom.”

Lily wasn’t sure how to word it, without letting out too much information. It was too complicated, and she did not want him to be involved in it. She didn’t want to trouble him.

“I am sure he means well.”

She just nodded in response. If only.

As they walked down the path, the sound of the music came closer and closer. Without noticing, Lily unexpectedly found herself swaying to the tunes.

Dimitri let out a gentle laugh, “May I have this dance?” he lift her hand as he turned to face her.

Lily giggled, “Yes.”

Then, it was as if the whole world changed. They were not in the garden anymore. They were in a world of their own. It was just him and her, dancing and twirling with more grace than any other. Not once did they lose eye contact. Lily looked into his warm and mesmerizing eyes like there was nothing else in the world. Nothing compared to the beauty and passion she saw. Nothing compared to how safe she felt in his arms.

She felt weightless like a feather. Nothing could hold her down, not even the weight of her dress. It was almost as if she was flying.

“Lily!” Someone shouted her name. “Your father is expecting you!”

In that instant, she was brought back down to earth. They were in the garden again. Her moment of complete bliss and ecstasy had been shattered.

Dimitri reluctantly let go of her. It was clear that, he too, had enjoyed it as much as she had.

“Will I ever see you again?” Lily looked up at him almost pleadingly.

“If that is what you desire.” Dimitri lift her hand to his lips as he bowed down and kissed it fondly.

Lily blushed bright red as she nodded.

That night, was the first time she had ever felt happy.

Never in her young life had she learned to know what love was until she had met Dimitri. Never had she felt such happiness and relief whenever she saw him and looked into those warm and welcoming eyes, which always seemed to soothe her sorrows and worries. She loved Dimitri more than she could ever love anyone.

She always looked forward to their nightly meetings. It was the thought of seeing him once again, that she managed to make it through the day with a brave smile on her face. Now, her smile had faded for she knew that it would never be the same without him. What was she to do?

Crouched over like a panther and sprinting with an unmatched speed, Dimitri cleverly picked his way through the Whitlocke garden. The bright moonlight almost betrayed him, but Dimitri simply couldn’t resist the joy of seeing Lily again. As usual, he climbed up the great oaken tree which long thick branches led within jumping distance of her window.

As he sprung from the tree, his black shoulder cape opened up behind him like the wings of a mystic bird. The cold night air snarled in protest, but with silent ease he safely landed on the windows ledge.

Suddenly, the air greeted Lily with a breath taking rush of wind that bore into her exposed skin. Shivering, she embraced herself. He was here.

With gentle grace, Dimitri jumped down on the floor without making the slightest sound. Noticing the bruise on Lily’s face he tenderly placed his hand on her discoloured cheek.

“Lily, my love, what happened?” His voice was thick with concern.

Lily closed her eyes in relief as a gentle coolness spread across her cheek. Dimitri’s ice cold hand had soothed the burning pain. With tears blurring her vision, she looked up at him.

“M-my father is g-giving me away to another man. I… I refused.”

Dimitri had to compose himself as he felt a burning rage build up inside him. The urge to simply rip open her father’s throat was too unbearable.

“He… He did this to you?”

Averting her gaze to the floor, Lily nodded. What was she to do? Even in her most horrid of nightmares, she could imagine nothing worse than losing Dimitri. Though no one would ever approve of a courtship with a vampire, she did not care. He was all she ever wanted. Why did they have to be ripped apart? All of her tears began streaming down her face.

Dimitri gathered her in his arms and caressed her soothingly. In all his years as a vampire, he had never loved anyone with such devotion. Lily was truly the love of his life, and he would do everything in his power to keep her safe. He could not allow her to stay within her father’s grasp any longer. He saw no other option. He had to take her away.

Gently sliding his hand down to her chin and lifting it up, Dimitri looked intently into Lily’s eyes.

”Run away with me, Lily. Let me take you somewhere safe, where we can be together.”

Lily gazed into Dimitri’s mesmerizing eyes for what seemed an eternity, as the reality of his words sunk into her mind. Though her feelings of guilt and shame were very overwhelming when she thought of her father, her feelings of love and affection towards Dimitri were much stronger. She would follow him anywhere.

With a smile suddenly appearing on her face she spoke with determine.

“Yes. I will do anything to be with you.”

Dimitri returned her smile.

“We shall leave before daybreak-” He hesitated and gently placed his hands on her shoulders. “I’ll let you prepare yourself for the journey while I fetch the carriage.”

“I won’t be long, my love. Await me at your window.” Feeling Dimitri’s tender kiss on her forehead, Lily nodded in agreement, and then, before she even knew it, he was gone.

Waking from her daze, Lily realized that she would have to act fast. In one quick movement, she walked over to her drawer and opened it with a loud screech. Sliding a lock of hair behind her ear, she began digging through the mess. Finally, she found what she was looking for; a long, sleek dress made of wool that had always been useful during her nightly outings with Dimitri. As she was sliding the dress over her nightgown, she heard an angry voice outside her door.

“I thought I told you to go to bed!”

It was her father.

Swallowing loudly, Lily struggled to find her words.

“I… I was cold.”

The door rattled noisily and then there was a final ‘click’ as it got unlocked. With a great moan, it swung open. Lily stood frozen like a deer about to meet its fate.

Her father shook his head with disapproval as he slowly walked towards her, “Tell me, Lily, why is the window open?”

She couldn’t help but shiver. “I just n-needed some f-fresh air,” She said shakily.

Suddenly, he grabbed her wrist. “You are not trying to run away, are you?”

“No! I would never-“

Lily’s words were cut short, as she was knocked to the ground by a merciless strike to her head. Barely staying conscious, she looked up at her father whom she could hardly recognise. Words were spilling out of his mouth, but the only thing she could hear was a high pitched ringing. Darkness was taking its grip on her, enveloping her like a mist, dulling all her senses.

Suddenly, Lily felt a chill run down her spine, as something darker than the mists clouding her vision entered the room. Realising that it was him, Lily clung for dear life to stay awake and plead for mercy on her father, but there was nothing she could do. It was already too late.

With claws as sharp as the finest blade, the vampire sliced through the father’s chest just as he had turned around and looked into the eyes of death. Before he drew his final breath, a voice so beautiful and dark had whispered to him, “You are a disgrace to human kind.”

Lily knew that her father was dead, and although she searched within her heart the love she had for him, she could not feel the sorrow of his loss. There was only an empty void.

She felt like a feather as she was lifted off the floor and cradled in the arms of her fearsome saviour. Lily embraced the darkness within herself, her gaze avoiding the blurred, lifeless corpse of her father. What else could she do?

Her old life had died with him.

There was no going back.

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