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 Isabel 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 Garret 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, Isabel felt anxious for what was to come. Would this be the last night?
She could still remember their first night as clearly as the cloudless sky above her. It was the night of All Hallow’s Eve. Her father had arranged a masquerade ball, where only the rich and elite had been invited. The whole mansion was lively with music and dancing. Several men had offered her a dance, but her father would not allow it. After a long evening of simply sitting stiffly by a table, Isabel finally saw a chance to escape when her father came into a deep discussion with a newly arrived stranger.
Isabel quietly rose from her seat and with as much subtleness as she could muster walked along the edge of the room until she found the door, which led out to the garden porch. With one final glance at her father, she slid the door open just enough for her to squeeze through. Isabel sighed with relief as she was met by the cool night air. 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. There were many gruesome tales of mysterious monsters in the night, but nothing compared to the fear she felt inside the Whitlocke mansion.
Isabel closed her eyes and realised that it was very quiet. She could still hear the faint sounds of music from the mansion, but out here, it was almost like a void. There was not even the whistle of the wind or the rustling of leaves and little animals moving around. It was too quiet. 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. She couldn’t hear the music anymore. 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. Isabel 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.
Isabel was awestruck.
“Who are you?”
The man smiled at her warmly but Isabel flinched when she saw his lips part. In place of his upper canines, were two fangs.
“My name is Garret Blackburne,” he said as he bowed to her gracefully.
Isabel had to swallow as she composed herself.
“What are you?”, she whispered.
Garret 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.
Garret 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.
Isabel 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, Isabel 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.
Garret 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”, Garret chuckled darkly as they walked out onto a little path.
Isabel smiled wryly.
“I presume you must be Whitlocke’s only daughter.”
She nodded, slightly surprised.
“Yes, I’m Isabel.”
“Isabel,” Garret 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.”
Isabel 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, Isabel unexpectedly found herself swaying to the tunes.
Garret let out a gentle laugh, “May I have this dance?” he lift her hand as he turned to face her.
Isabel 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. Isabel 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.
“Isabel!” 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.
Garret 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?” Isabel looked up at him almost pleadingly.
“If that is what you desire.” Garret lift her hand to his lips as he bowed down and kissed it fondly.
Isabel 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 Garret. 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 Garret 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, Garret cleverly picked his way through the Whitlocke garden. The bright moonlight almost betrayed him, but Garret simply couldn’t resist the joy of seeing Isabel 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 Isabel with a breath taking rush of wind that bore into her exposed skin. Shivering, she embraced herself. He was here.
With gentle grace, Garret jumped down on the floor without making the slightest sound. Noticing the bruise on Isabel’s face he tenderly placed his hand on her discoloured cheek.
“Isabel, my love, what happened?” His voice was thick with concern.
Isabel closed her eyes in relief as a gentle coolness spread across her cheek. Garret’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.”
Garret 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, Isabel nodded. What was she to do? Even in her most horrid of nightmares, she could imagine nothing worse than losing Garret. 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.
Garret gathered her in his arms and caressed her soothingly. In all his years as a vampire, he had never loved anyone with such devotion. Isabel 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, Garret looked intently into Isabel’s eyes.
”Run away with me, Isabel. Let me take you somewhere safe, where we can be together.”
Isabel gazed into Garret’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 Garret 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.”
Garret 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 Garret’s tender kiss on her forehead, Isabel nodded in agreement, and then, before she even knew it, he was gone.
Waking from her daze, Isabel 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 Garret. 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, Isabel 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. Isabel 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, Isabel, 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-“
Isabel’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, Isabel felt a chill run down her spine, as something darker than the mists clouding her vision entered the room. Realising that it was him, Isabel 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.”
Isabel 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. Isabel 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.