Diana had orders not to step in the saloon that night and she hated it. She hadn’t seen her master during dinner as usual. He didn’t come to request her to play some music nor to ask her to read some poetry. She wondered for a while if that had anything to do with what had happened the past two nights. She wondered if the master was avoiding her.
While hammering on that decision, she went to the library, holding petrol light in her hand, that was much better than candles. She would read a bit more and divert her mind, but that wasn’t an easy task. Whenever something hammered over and over in her head, she had to find the answer for her doubts. Diana closed the book, a Shakespeare play, and looked for her father.
Constantine was in the kitchen helping Martha with the cutlery from the dinner. Of the servants, only him and his daughter had the privilege to have it with the master in the dining room. Constantine knew that Diana was the main reason for it. His master wanted his daughter’s company while pretending he’d eat. Martha and Ralph had it in the kitchen, but despite that, they were very well taken care of. Lord Smith, took better care of them than any other Lord in the county. Even their salary was above the medium salary of a servant. Also, Constantine’s loyalty played a great role in the way the two interacted and in the way Lord Smith was attached to his butler. Most of the time, the master treated him like a friend or like family and not a butler.
“My daughter…” Constantine smiled watching his daughter coming in.
“Father?” She said in a questioning tone and sat at the table looking at him. Constantine looked at her expecting the rest. “Why hasn’t the master had dinner with us tonight?”
Constantine whished Diana wasn’t so curious about Lord Smith. For some time he believed it was just a little girl’s infatuation but he realized that her curiosity and interest remained even after she had grown up. It became even worse after she reached a certain age. He knew she was in love with the master and it worried her father much.
“He’s busy.” Her father answered, but that was too vague to satisfy her.
“With what?” She asked back. Constantine sighed. It worried him the way she liked the master.
“He is getting ready.” He said. Again that was all too vague for her.
“What for father?” She raised an eyebrow. “Why am I not allowed in the saloon today?”
“The master is having a party tonight. He invited some friends and you’re not allowed to go there.”
“A party?” She questioned surprise. There weren’t parties in the palace, not that she could remember, but there were some times indeed where the same had happened. Sometimes she wouldn’t be allowed in there.
“Yes.” Constantine simply said and returned to clean the crystal glasses.
“How come the master is having a party and I am not invited!” Diana exclaimed almost offended.
“You don’t go there, you hear me!” Constantine raised his tone so she could fully understand his order. He had never been that firm with her and Diana was sure that moment her father knew exactly what this party was all about.
“No.” She said to content her father but inside, she knew as soon as everyone would be sleeping that she would go there. Lord Smith would be mad but she couldn’t care less. She wanted to see him, she wanted to see what kind of party was this that she wasn’t allowed.
As soon as she couldn’t hear any noise coming from the rooms in her hallway, she got out of the bed and lit up the petrol light again. Diana searched for the blue satin dress that Lord Smith loved and she put it on. It revealed a bit of her collarbone but nothing considered indecent. She tied her hair up, leaving some curls falling over her temples, and adorned her neck with a necklace with a blue sapphire, a present from her love when she turned eighteen. She put on some matching hearings and didn’t forget to put some drops of French perfume, and then she opened the door of the bedroom gently and peeped. No one was around.
Diana tiptoed until the saloon. Even before she got near the two huge wood doors that led to it, she heard noise of people talking and laughing. Her stomach flipped in rage that he was giving her party and hasn’t invited her. She shouldn’t disobey his orders but it was stronger than her. Holding the light in one hand, she pushed the door opened with the other. The huge door grated while opening and all heads turned to it. Diana stepped in and looked around. James’ eyes fell on her and immediately she saw there was rage written all over his face. His lines became so rigid; she thought he was going to yell at her right there. Some naked women on the floor, dead, she assumed. A man, as pale as her master was, came to her with a mischievous smile. His gaze was so intense that she felt her body shudder with fear.
“Well…well…” He smiled while his greenish eyes stared at her with a dangerous glitter in them. Diana shivered a bit and stepped back in fear. “What do we have here?” The man asked in a funny accent. He was a brunet with his hair tied back. He walked up to Diana slowly, his eyes locked on hers. He was a predator, she was sure. Her legs trembled a bit.
“Stay away from her!” James’s voice echoed that moment and he walked up to them, putting himself in front of the man. “You do not touch her!” There was a few seconds of tension between the two men and then the foreigner stepped aside.
“I am Cullen.” He bowed and Rafaela bowed as well but with her heart beating fast. Cullen groaned silently hearing her heart beating so fast. It was pure torture.
“This is Lady Diana Davenport.” James introduced her and Cullen giving her another bow and a menacing smile, stepped away. James turned to her and his lines became rigid again.
“Why did you disobey my orders?” He asked. Diana was too distracted looking around her. There were only men in there. A slaughter on the floor. Diana concluded they were all vampires that had been feeding. That was the party. Then her eyes met a tall blonde woman, after all there were not just men.
“Is she like you?” Diana asked ignoring James’ question, but he grabbed her arm.
“Didn’t you hear what I said?” He shot back at her. “Get out of here!” He ordered.
“Is she like you?” Diana insisted watching the beautiful woman like she was hypnotized. James looked back.
“She’s Cullen’s partner.” He said vaguely. “She’s harmless, she feeds from animals, but the others don’t. You need to leave and learn how to obey orders!” He emphasized in the end.
“Aren’t they fed already?” Diana asked innocently.
“We’re predators!” He exclaimed. “It doesn’t matter if we’re fed or not. Saw how Cullen looked at you? It’s the smell of your blood that makes it irresistible.” James tried to explain.
“Aren’t they used to relate with humans?” She asked him. James understood that maybe she had to learn how to deal with his reality.
“There’s a lot you don’t know my lady…” He said then. “Everyone here in this room is used to relate with humans without sucking the blood out of them, the point is they don’t have any relation with you. They don’t know you and the only reason why they’re quiet is because I am their leader…they obey me.” Now Diana was confused. She curled an eyebrow.
“So, you’re their superior? Like they’re your servants?”
“No.” James shook his head. “I’ll explain later but now go away.” He said again. Diana didn’t move, she looked at the woman again. James felt the blood he had sucked boiling if that was possible. “My lady…” He called for her attention again. “I am ordering you to leave.” His jaw clenched and his teeth grated, he was furious.. Diana hated when he bossed her around. She made him a face. “Obey me!” He said ignoring her fury.
“Can I see you later?” She asked him and he softened right there.
“Lord Smith…” The woman interrupted them and both James and Diana looked at her. She was so beautiful Diana thought. “I may take her for a walk in your garden if you don’t mind.” The woman suggested. James knew it was safe and turned to Diana.
“This is Lady Angela Richenbauer.” James introduced the woman and both of them bowed and smiled at each other.
“Diana Davenport.” Diana said. “I would love your company.” She said, knowing it was a great opportunity to learn more.
“Do not come back here.” James said and Diana bowed with a smile on her lips.
“As you wish my Lord.” She said with such sweet tone that almost made him give in. He hated her arrogance and her pertinence, then he smiled while he watched her going away with Angela as company. He turned to his friends, his brood, in the room with him. “No one touches her!” He said.
Angela and Diana walked along the dark paths of the garden that surrounded the palace. First there was silence, and Diana was dying to question Angela without mercy but she was too ashamed to do so. She had just met her, though she appeared somewhat friendly. Angela, though, feeling all her discomfort and acknowledging all the tension between her and James in the room decided to break the silence.
“You know what we are, right?” Angela asked her and Diana felt a glimpse of hope invading her. Maybe she could gather all her doubts together or even learn things that she didn’t know.
“I do, but other than the part that you’re cold and sunlight kills you, I don’t know much.”
“James never told you?” Angela asked and Diana noticed the informal way she addressed to her master, even if he said he was their leader. She had learned the fact that night.
“No.” Diana shook her head. “Only a few days ago I revealed the truth to him.”
“James is the leader of our group.” Angela told her, then she grabbed her hand to make her sit on one of the marble benches in the garden. Her hand was as cold as her master’s, but that didn’t scare her anymore.
“How come the leader?” Diana asked feeling this immense joy reaching her. She would learn more indeed. She hadn’t been wrong when her eyes and Angela’s locked for the first time, there was this friendly glare in her eyes and not the prey glare.
“James is the Sire lady Davenport.” Angela continued and Diana looked at her more lost than ever.
“Call me Diana.” She offered her a smile. “I think we can address to each other in a more friendly way. What is a Sire?”
“A Sire is the vampire with the power to transform a human into a vampire. He’s the only one in our brood who can do that. He was the one transforming all of us.” Now that was something new and important Diana didn’t know.
“He transformed all of you?” Angela nodded. For a moment Diana felt jealous. Angela was a woman, the only woman in the brood, as she called it. She wondered what James’ motives were to transform her.
“They say a vampire is a solitaire creature, but that’s not true. Not in James’ case anyway. He’s the oldest of us, of course…I think he felt the need to have company of his kind. He can relate to humans but it’s not the same thing. He had to have some of his kind with whom he could share, well…the vampirism…”
“He transformed you?” Diana asked not containing the curiosity.
Angela smiled knowingly. “He did. Like I told you he’s the Sire, he’s the only one capable of doing so. Cullen’s request…” Angela smile again. “…I was twenty one and my father owned a tavern in Glasgow. Cullen used to come there at night. I thought he was too pale and thought he was sick but then he was so gentle. I worked late hours there, though I shouldn’t. That isn’t a place for a girl, but my father needed help. Cullen and I became friends I should say, and I fell in love with him, not knowing what he was. Vampires search for a partner, that’s why I can assure you they aren’t lonely creatures and Cullen found his. One night, James came in…I remember a horrible pain on my wrist and like my whole body was catching fire, and then I don’t remember anything else, only being this way.”
“So they all look for their partner…” Diana said thoughtful. Though a bit horrified, she couldn’t but find Angela’s story romantic in a way. “How long have you been together?”
“Thirty five years.” Angela said. “I am the youngest of the brood.”
“How old is James?”
“He’s one hundred and fifty.” Angela answered. Diana thought then how come he hasn’t found his partner, or wasn’t he looking for one.
“How come he has no one?”
“Because he hasn’t found one yet.” Angela smiled. She knew exactly what was going on, she could see herself in Diana. Diana was in love with her leader. “James is our biggest predator but at the same time the one that kept most human feelings. He’s looking for what he had lost a couple of time before he was transformed…” Angela made an irritating pause. “…love.”
Diana opened her eyes wide at the revelation. So, the master had been in love.