“Darling, Darkness, lover of mine, with my bite I’ll drink your wine. Pierce thy flesh beneath the skin and allow the flow of your sweet crimson.” ~ Sheila Renee Parker
People call it, “Land beyond the hills.”, but not me. I call it home. Sona, Romania is where my family has lived for generations. Some as traders, some as farmers, and then there’s my father. He’s a dignitary who answers to the King. As far as my mother goes, I never got to meet her. She died during childbirth. The day I was born was the last day she took breath. My father still speaks of her often, fondly with tears in his eyes. Even though it’s been nineteen years, I know that his heart continues to beat only for her.
The evening was filled with a dusk colored sky as the sun slowly vanished behind the trees. In my carriage, I was on route to pick up my father from the castle where he was discussing politics with the King. I’ve always found the meetings to be rather boring, so every time he attended was when I’d have our driver take me out for a ride.
The air was damp from the late afternoon rain and the carriage’s wooden wheels jolted with every mud puddle they splashed. The atmosphere was soggy, and yet, there was still a certain calmness that I felt to be quite serene.
As we trailed through the woods, nearing the village, just up the distance was a figure walking ahead to the side of the road. With my parasol I knocked on the ceiling of the carriage to tell the driver to stop. My curiosity was oddly drawn to this peculiar character wearing a dirty brown, hooded robe that dragged the earth with each step that he took. It was stained with mud from the feet up. However filthy as he was, there was something undeniably alluring about this strange man.
I called out to him as the horses were coming to a stop. “Need a ride?”
He didn’t respond and for some odd reason that bothered me.
“You, peasant!” I forcefully spoke, demanding his response.
Obviously, I had struck a nerve because he came to a halt. His pose stiffened as he raised his head, turning his face in my direction. Through the long, fallen hair in his eyes, and just past the edge of his hood, he looked at me with a savage glare in his eyes.
“What do you want?” He growled.
“I….. I…..” I stammered to speak for he caught me off guard with his harshness.
“Ah… now you can’t speak.” He grinned heinously.
“Ma’am?” The driver interrupted. “We must be going. You’re father…”
I hushed the driver to stop and pleaded for another moment.
“Mustn’t keep your father waiting.” Toyed the hooded one.
I froze, couldn’t understand what I was doing. Normally I would have never stopped for a complete stranger, especially one so unkempt and impudent, but there was something about him that made me extremely inquisitive and I had to find out why.
“Get in!” I demanded. “We’re heading in that direction and you appear to need a ride.”
“Well, my feet are worn and I have grown tired.” He mumbled.
Without saying another word I opened the carriage door and motioned for him to come inside. He hesitated, then gathered his composure. While taking the seat across from me I warned him to keep his distance. His gaze began at my feet and his eyes eerily went all the way up my body to meet mine. He slightly shook his head as he grinned, “Can’t make any promises.”
“I’m warning you!” I urged.
“Relax.” The hooded vagrant said. There was an uneasy calm that immediately overcame me as he continued to speak. “Now, tell your driver to drive.”
Quietly, I obeyed his command and knocked on the ceiling of the carriage to do so. Suddenly, it was as if this bizarre character was in charge of me and I was no longer in control. What just happened? One minute I felt strong and then the next, I felt completely powerless.
“What’s your name?” He asked while making sure to keep his eyes locked onto mine. It was making me feel uncomfortable and regretting picking him up.
“Your name?” He asked again. His eyes darkened as they bore deeper into my soul.
“Angelika.” My lips whispered cautiously. I slowly pressed my back firmly against my seat, an attempt to get far enough away from him as I possibly could. He immediately took notice of my move and snickered. His eyes continued to stare into mine as if he were trying to figure me out, read me like an unwritten script.
And then….. “Ahhh….. “ a malefic grin stretched across his face. “Like an angel.”
“Pardon me?” I quickly responded.
This nasty, foul person leaned towards me and callously continued. “Ha! Your name. It means ‘like an angel’. Ironic, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?” I snarled, advancing his lean with the same inconsiderate attitude he was giving me.
His harsh breath filled my nostrils and I could literally feel every word that he spoke on my face. “You. Me. Together in this moment. An angel and I.” He laughed. “It amuses me.”
“I’m far from being an angel.” I protested abruptly.
“Ha! Of course you are.” He added while leaning back into his seat.
Suddenly, the moment grew quiet and still with a sense of wickedness that I couldn’t overcome.
“Should you tell your driver to stop and let me off?” He quietly mouthed while watching the trees as we passed them by.
“No.” Was all I could reply. It was as if however vile this rugged character was, I didn’t want him to leave. His presence was captivating and I wanted him near. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His hair was long and dark with a certain wave about it. The straggly whiskers on his face concealed an age that I couldn’t quite collect, but that didn’t stop my inquisitiveness about him.
“Why are you looking at me?” He asked while staring out the window.
“What? I’m not.” I was too embarrassed to be honest with my response, so I sheepishly looked down at my dress, pretending to brush off road dust that obviously wasn’t there.
“Your eyes, I can feel them on me.” He smiled, slowly turning his head in my direction.
“No.” I quickly interjected, but before I could speak any further, he was across the carriage leaning his brute body into mine. Through his robe I could feel his chest muscles press against my bosom.
“You like that, don’t you?” He smiled gloriously like a victor claiming his prize.
With all my will I wanted to deny his advance, but was well aware that I physically wouldn’t be able to. He towered over me, conquering my every rejection.
“You can’t resist me.” The words whispered from his icy lips as they lingered down my neck. His breath became cold like death and yet, I still wanted him more.
I shivered from his touch. “Please!” I begged.
“Please, what? Stop?” He looked into my eyes with an enraptured darkness that continued to lure me in.
“Or would you like for me to…..?” His kissing persisted as his hands began to explore my body. He unlaced my bodice, exposing the skin beneath my dress. I had become utterly vulnerable to him as he proclaimed my innocence. He penetrated me, taking what I could no longer take back, and I loved it, every sensual moment of it! He made me feel things I had never felt before. A defeated fear that had completely disappeared. He replaced it with a voracious need that made me desire more. My legs wrapped around his waist, inviting him even deeper into me. Without hesitation he quickly obliged, causing me to moan uncontrollably.
The driver apparently heard us because he called out. “Ma’am, is everything all right?”
“Faster!” I screamed in ecstasy.
“Keep going!” My bearded flame demanded the driver.
We could feel our carriage gathering speed which only intensified the atmosphere. Our mood became more fierce, more sensual and totally adulterated. His carnal spell had me undoubtedly under his control and we were making love like two wild beasts. It was erotic in every sense of the word.
His kisses became harder and more fervent. I could feel the sharpness of his teeth as he nibbled my neck. There was pain, slightly, but with an invitation that tingled with anticipation. I gladly exposed my neck even more, welcoming him to take me.
With his deep voice he softly spoke. “Darling, Darkness, lover of mine, with my bite I’ll drink your wine. Pierce thy flesh beneath the skin and allow the flow of your sweet crimson.”
And it was in that exact, beautiful moment that I could feel my old life end and a new one begin. Confidence, elegance and even arrogance brought on with strength, wisdom and power was immediately bestowed upon me. Was I still under his spell or were my eyes finally opened to a reality unveiled? What had this stranger done to me?
I looked deep into his eyes for answers. “Who are you?” I begged to know.
With a charming smile he replied. “To some a monster, to many a prince, but to you, my love…. “ He quietly paused. “I am Vlad.”
I gasped in disbelief. And just like that he was gone, vanished from the presence before me. His hooded robe, his smell, his very essence were all gone within an instant. I sat there in that vacant moment, clutching my disheveled dress, questioning the mere validity of my sanity. Was it all simply a dream? I quivered at the thought.
We drove a ways down the road. The streets were becoming brighter as the light from the lanterns illuminated the impending night. We were entering the village where my father was. When we arrived at the castle, the carriage came to a stop and I found myself not being able to move. I sat there with my head against the seat, asking myself, “Did I really spend the evening with a man named Vlad?” And if so, how did he vanish into thin air?
Then I thought, “Vlad the Impaler?! Prince of Darkness?!” But that was impossible because he died almost a century ago and the legend of him being a vampire was merely just that…. a legend. Right?!
The driver opening the carriage door suddenly broke my confused concentration. “Ma’am?”
“Huh? Ah, yes.” I quietly said while taking his hand as he lead me outside.
“Where’s the gentleman that we picked up?” He asked, looking throughout the carriage.
I couldn’t answer him. All I could do was shake my head while stumbling for the words.
Then, the immediate shock on the driver’s face as he looked at me. His eyes trembled with fear. “Your neck!”
“What do you mean?” I asked him while reaching for my neck with my left hand. It was wet and warm. Puzzled, I looked down at my fingertips. They were covered with blood, my blood. I could feel the bite mark where my dark lover had bitten me. I smiled because that was the confirmation that I needed for it wasn’t just a dream, it was definitely a reality. A beguiling one shared intimately with my phantom traveler.
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~ Art by Sheila Renee Parker available at: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sheilarenee-parker.html