Diana was in the library distracted with Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet when she heard footsteps approaching. She looked back to find Constantine arriving with Jack by his side and immediately she got up and walked up to them.
“My lord…” She bowed greeting him. Jack smiled at her feeling his heart beating in his throat. Every time he’d see Diana, he’d discover another detail he loved about her. Every day she seemed more beautiful than the other.
“Lady Davenport.” He greeted back, though they had already broken that formality between them. Still, that was for when they were alone, in front of other people they’d still greet each other obeying the rules. “I hope I am not disturbing you.” Jack smiled.
Diana shook her head. Her heart was beating so fast, she thought she was going to faint there. “I was reading while I was waiting for your visit.” She said. “Shall we go for a walk in the garden?”
Constantine frowned. It wasn’t like Diana to propose such things. He thought there was something in Jack that she really liked. The garden was an open space and Ralph was always around. There wasn’t any danger for them to be alone in there, and just like the other time, Constantine made them company until the door and then watched them walking away. Ralph was taking care of the horses and nodded as if letting the father know he’d be watching and then Constantine closed the door.
“I met your master last night.” Jack told her. Diana looked at him a bit shocked.
“Where? How?” She asked trying not to sound too shocked or desperate for information, or even afraid, as. she remembered hearing James saying he’d kill Jack.
“In a tavern down the village. He was there having a Scotch.” Jack explained. Diana curled an eyebrow surprised. James was drinking? Then she remembered how he’d drink wine the other night and ate human food. There must be something else she didn’t know about him or about vampires in general. “He invited me to have dinner here today. That is why I came a little later.”
“Dinner?” Diana asked again trying to disguise her concern semblance and surprised as well. James was really up to something and maybe it wasn’t something good.
“Is there anything wrong?” Jack asked back noticing a bit of discomfort on her side. Diana stopped walking and sat down on the grass, under a cypress. Jack sat down by her side.
“No, nothing. It’s just that the master doesn’t invite many people for dinner, that’s all.” There she forced a smile. There was something punned in his invitation and she could only hope for the best.
“What were you reading?” Jack smiled with his eyes glittering. He had dreamed with her that night. The memory of his dream still so vivid in his memory. It had been so real he could still feel the sweetness of her lips against his. He wanted to kiss her, right there, right that moment. He couldn’t do so, though.
“Hamlet.” She told him with a grin.
“Hamlet?” Jack said. “To be or not to be, that’s the question!” He said impersonating Hamlet and his noble style. Diana giggled amused with his act. “Why Hamlet? Shakespeare has so many plays.”
“I sympathize with Ophelia, I think.” Diana shrugged. Jack stared at her for brief instants. Ophelia, the lady that had been in love with Hamlet and that committed suicide.
“Why is that?” He asked curious.
“She was deeply in love with Hamlet.” She smiled. Suddenly, her eyes sank down in sadness and she looked down. Jack realized she mirrored her story in Ophelia’s. “He deceived her. Though it never says in the story, explicitly, that they made love, it is suggested they did. Hamlet left her after that. He took away her innocence and let her go. He never intended to marry her. Poor Ophelia! Can you imagine how it would be not to be a virgin in the XVI century? I mean…it is still so important today, imagine three centuries ago.”
Jack was sure now that was what happened with her somehow. The way she explained the story. The way she seemed outraged by Hamlet’s gesture. “Do you believe she was really crazy?” Jack tried to divert the subject that seemed to cause her so much pain.
“No.” Diana shook her head. “Sad, mistreated maybe, but not crazy. I think all the time she was planning her suicide and making people believe she was crazy made things easier for her somehow. Ophelia wasn’t crazy for real. Hamlet though…”
Jack laughed loud at her remark. She stared at him and then spoke again. “What? You don’t think so?”
“Maybe, yes.” Jack agreed. “But he was so tormented with his father’s ghost and the oath to find his murderer.”
“It’s true.” Diana said.
“Back to Ophelia…” Jack took the chance. “She should have been patient. One day another man would rescue her.” Jack looked deep in Diana’s blue eyes.
“You think so?” She asked him. Jack got up and kneeled in front of her.
“A knight….” He waved his arms in the air. “A knight would arrive near the castle on a horse. He’d know there was a lady in need to be rescued and he’d be her savior.” His eyes opened wide while he told her the tale. Diana began to giggle. “When he‘d see her, he’d acknowledge how beautiful she was and pure in so many other ways.” Diana felt her face blush that moment. Her heart was beating a mile per second. Her chest came up and down with the emotion.
“And then what?” Diana asked amused with his tale. Jack grabbed both her hands in his and she let him. Looking in her eyes, he wrapped his fingers around hers. Hers obeyed the gesture. Both their hearts took off running that moment. Her skin was softer than Jack had ever imagined.
“He’d let the lady know that he wouldn’t mind with what happened in her past and that he would take her anyway. Then, they’d kiss…” Saying that he bent over her and brushed his lips softly on hers. Diana held her breath taken by surprise with his sudden gesture, but didn’t pull away. She gasped a little and then Jack pulled away not wanting to cross a forbidden barrier. He looked in her eyes. “Ophelia’s story is your own, isn’t it?” He asked courageously.
Diana looked down at her lap feeling her face flush. She stayed quiet but after a few seconds she nodded. “That’s why I can’t marry you.” She whispered so ashamed of herself. Jack took two fingers under her chin and pulled her face up, so she could look at him.
“No one has to know.” He said. Diana stared at him surprised. He was so handsome and she wished he’d kiss her again. Like reading her thoughts, Jack bent over her one more time and pecked her lips slowly. Diana closed her eyes taking in the soft and warm taste of his lips. It was so different from kissing James. James’ kiss was ice cold and Jack’s was so warm. There was this tenderness in the way his tongue entangled with hers that didn’t exist in James’ kiss. James’ was more eager, more demanding. The way Jack held her close against his body and it was warm and the way her body was catching fire. Jack held her protectively and James always had to keep a safe distance. Jack’s arms held her so tight and his lips explored hers softly. Finally they parted and she looked away from him embarrassed.
“You are beautiful.” Jack told her sweetly and she giggled but blushed.
“It’s getting dark.” She said getting up and smoothing her dress. “We better go inside.”
“Diana?” Jack called and she looked down at him. “I don’t mind…”
“It’s embarrassing.” She said feeling her voice shake and while saying it she could not face him. Jack got up and made her look at him.
“Don’t be embarrassed…” He whispered with his special hoarse tone. “No one has to know but us.” She nodded but said nothing and they began their way back to the castle.
When they got inside the palace, Diana saw the lights burning in the dining room. James was already there. Constantine looked at his daughter as if asking for an explanation or maybe just fearful. He had been taken by surprise when James told him Jack Byron would join them for dinner that day. Confirming her suspicions, when they got inside the dining room, James was sat on the huge couch with a glass of wine in his hand. He was impeccably dressed. His hair was impeccably combed and he had put on perfume. Diana shivered at the sight. The love she felt for that man was irreplaceable, she knew. It didn’t matter how warm and sweet she’d find Jack or how lovely and beautiful he was, the emotions she’d feel for one and the other were not comparable.
“My lord…” She greeted him anyway trying to show indifference. She didn’t want him to notice how hurt she was.
“Diana…” James greeted her that way, surprising everyone in there. Jack tensed, he felt something was wrong. The way James addressed to Diana wasn’t the right way, unless… Jack shivered. Lord Smith had been the one to deceive Diana. Jack stared at James a bit shocked with his discovery and James like reading his thoughts stared back at him, defying him. His blue eyes glittered facing his enemy and Jack’s pierced on his fearless. Jack had no idea who he was and what he was capable of. Lord Byron had no chance whatsoever in a fight with James. James was stronger and immortal.
“Shall we sit at the table?” James pointed.
“Sure.” Diana said.
During the whole dinner and while they talked, James noticed how Jack and Diana interacted. He was surer and surer that he was bound to eliminate his rival. Diana’s eyes glowed when she heard Jack telling his stories about Paris, and they shared many common tastes. He noticed how juvenile Jack was. He was much closer to Diana’s age than he was. Nevertheless a man his age could marry a girl her age. There were plenty of cases like that in the English society. A man… then he remembered how he wasn’t a man, but a monster, still he couldn’t bare for her to fall in love with the red haired boy sat at the table with him.
“Would you like some rum?” James offered when they were done. Diana was playing piano again. Somehow James’ sensed that for the first time she wasn’t playing for him, but for the man sat by his side, for her eyes searched for Jack quite often.
“You play wonderfully.” Jack said.
“She’s very talented.” James agreed. Diana’s eyes set on his and she saw a mist of compassion, passion and then something else she couldn’t read. Suddenly Jack bent over and yelled in pain, gripping onto his stomach.
“OH!” He said falling down on his knees on the floor.
“Is everything alright?” James asked looking down at the floor almost in disdain. Diana ran to him.
“Jack!” She said kneeling in front of him. Her hands rested on his shoulders and she forgot all about manners. “Are you ok?”
“My stomach…” He said clenching his jaw. He must have been in terrible pain, then he tensed and he lost his senses. Diana yelled horrified.
James got up as if nothing had happened. Immediately, both Constantine and Diana knew he had something to do with that. Constantine was shocked.
“My lord, what have you done?” He asked.
“Nothing!” James said. Diana got up angry.
“What have you done to him?” She asked yelling not caring if her father was there.
“He’s alive.” James told her.
“I’m going to grab a glass of water.” Constantine left, as if water could help.
“What have you done to him?” Diana asked again with tears in her eyes.
“Just a little bit of poison. Just a warning…” James told her coldly.
“Why?” She punched his stone chest with both her fists. “Why?”
“You’re mine!” He said grating his teeth.
“I am not!” Diana argued. “What? Didn’t you say that I needed to marry someone else? Didn’t you say I meant nothing to you? So, here he is…he’s the one I am going to marry to. Leave him alone! Leave Jack alone.”
“Are you in love with him?” James asked her.
“It’s none of your business. You told me to go, now don’t interfere with my life and Jack is innocent in all this, so just leave him alone. I will never forgive you if anything happens to him.” Jack began to move and she kneeled back near him, holding his head on her lap.
“Diana…” James exclaimed. She couldn’t just ignore him and help another man on the floor. She had to realize he was doing all that because he loved her.
“Leave me alone.” She cried and pampered Jack’s hair. “It’s not fair…”
James walked away feeling hurt by the scene. Seeing her helping another man, caressing another man’s hair was just too much.
“I swear I’ll finish that Jack Byron!” He muttered preparing to leave. “I will finish him!” He promised again and then opened the door. A figure appeared in front of it. “What the hell are you doing here?” He asked grumpily.
“Is that the way you greet your maker?” Dave asked him with a soft smile on his lips.
“You disgraced me! You should burn in hell!” James told him. Dave laughed loud, tilting his head back.
“Oh James…” Dave gasped. “Still so dramatic…” He laughed.
“It’s because of you that I am the way I am…”
“And you love it.” Dave grinned.