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From Light Into Darkness
Chapter 2
By: DarkenAngel


	"This is truly a palace." I breathed as I preceded Alexander into a mansion he
referred to casually as his "Paris home." I heard his soft laughter at my
reaction to the wealth he possessed.

	"Shall I show you to your room?" he asked, after giving me a moment to stare at
everything around me in wonder. I nodded, excitedly, taking the arm that he
offered me. We headed up the huge stairway that branched off the main hall. I
exclaimed over the beauty of the gold and ivory banisters and the dark red
carpet that covered the steps. Alexander simply watched me with an amused look
in his eyes and something else I did not linger over.

	He walked to a door after what seemed like an eternity of walking down halls
and turning corners. He stepped aside to let me enter the room before him. What
I saw nearly took my breath away. The windows of this room were covered in the
darkest blue velvet drapes and the walls covered in silk wall hangings. I looked
at the velvet-covered love seats and the beautiful writing table. I exclaimed
over everything as Alexander softly closed the door behind him.

	I headed for a door that graced one wall of this most beautiful room and saw
that it contained a wardrobe, a huge bed covered with satin sheets and
comforters, and a vanity table of gold and ivory.

	"Oh, Alexander." I breathed, it being the only thing I could say, amazed at
everything.

	"This is your wealth now." he replied.

	"What could I have possibly done to deserve this?" I whispered, turning to look
into his eyes.

	"I found you and I need no other excuse to give you what should have belonged
to you on the day of your birth." He said, one finger tracing the contours of my
face.

	I could not help myself. I ran into his arms, hugging him fiercely, unable to
voice what I felt. He was slightly taken aback and then he put his arms around
me and hugged me as well. I looked up at him, tears of happiness glittering in
my eyes.

	"Christine, why do you weep?" he asked softly.

	"They are tears of happiness, cherie." I said.

	"You will never need to cry again. I am here to protect you and to give you
anything that your heart may ever desire." He told me, kissing the tears from my
cheeks.

	"How can I ever repay you?" I asked.

	"You need to give me nothing in return for what I have done. In fact, I have
one more gift to offer you, but I fear that this one will require much more
thought than the idea that you accompany me here. I am not even positive that
you will believe me when I tell you what it is." He said in reply to my
question. I looked at him questionably.

Alexander took a deep breath, then took me by the shoulders. "I do not want you
to become hysterical when I tell you this," he told me, sitting me down on a
settee. "I will understand if you will not wish to stay after you hear what I
have to tell you. I will make arrangements for you to stay with a respectable
family in Paris if you decide to leave."

	"It cannot be that bad." I told him, concern beginning to rise within me along
with fear.

Alexander loosened his grip on my shoulders and took in another deep breath
before turning from me and stating simply, "I am a vampire."

	I stood and walked away from him, shocked at what he had just stated. "Are you
mad?" I asked in amazement, smiling, refusing to believe that what he said could
possibly be true. I prayed to God that the man I had fallen in love with was not
insane.

	"I assure you, I am not mad. I also see that you will need evidence. Perhaps
then you will accept what I have told you." he said, then added, "I had feared
that I would have to do this, but please, stay calm."

	He strode to the writing table. He opened the lid and lifted an exquisite
letter opener, the end in a point and slender as a knife. I watched him and
cried out in shock as he drove it completely through his palm with a slight
intake of breath. "Alexander!" I yelled, running to him.

Blood welled up through the wound, running over his hands. I gasped in shock as
I saw the extent of the damage he had inflicted upon himself. I took the wounded
hand in my own, the blood staining my hands as well as his. I watched him as he
absorbed the pain, seemingly inviting it into himself, an expression that was
almost a smile upon his face, his eyes closed. After a moment he opened them,
and I gasped. They positively glowed with a bright, inhuman light, and his
canine teeth had taken on a sharpness and length that shocked me.
I stared at him for a moment and then took hold of the object of destruction
that was still embedded in his palm and gently pulled it from his hand, watching
his face. He did not seem to feel the pain.

	I looked at the wound and watched in amazement as the flesh healed itself, and
the sound closed. "Mon Dieu!" I exclaimed, letting his hand drop. Alexander drew
a handkerchief from his coat pocket and wiped the blood from my hands as well as
his own.

	I reached a trembling hand to his face as he watched me through eyes as bright
as the jewel whose color they borrowed. I moved a finger and touched the skin
next to his eyes. He kissed my wrist, closing his eyes for a moment. My flesh
tingled when his fangs briefly touched the sensitive flesh. I moved my fingers
to his mouth, gently running a fingertip over the tip of one of the fangs that I
had believed no person could possess. I pulled back as my finger was cut from
the sharpness.

	One drop appeared. Alexander took my hand in his and brought it to his lips,
kissing the wound, taking the drop of blood with his kiss. A moment later his
fangs disappeared and his eyes returned to normal.

	"I am sorry that I had to resort to that, but I wished for you to see what I am
before I ask you to join me in this existence." He said, holding my hands in
his.

	"You are asking me to become a vampire?" I asked, still dazed from the
information he had just revealed and the things that it explained, remembering
the legend I had been told when I was still a child, tales meant to put the fear
of God in me but really only succeeded in making me keep a carved wooden cross
under my bed for years until I finally threw it out, calling the legends
nonsense.

I vividly recalled the tales at that moment. It was the legend of the undead,
the ones who rose from their graves at night to drain the life force from the
living and returned to the ground before the sun rose, lest they become dust
from the warming light. I looked at Alexander through eyes that had been opened
to the truth. It explained so many things I had failed to notice before. I gazed
at him with the knowledge I now possessed and saw the future. I could be
immortal, living through the centuries, learning everything I had always wanted
to learn and watching the world change, seeing the old pass away and the new
coming in. I could be with Alexander forever, letting him teach me what must
have been centuries of knowledge he had already acquired before he met me.

	"Oui, I am asking you to become a vampire. Nosferatu, undead, immortal;
whichever word you wish to classify it as. I want you by my side for eternity,
as my companion, my lover, my inspiration. I have never seen one who inspires me
as you do and I want that to be as eternal as I am, and I wish to love the
personality and the woman that you are." He said in answer to my question.
I thought about the advantages of this for a few moments and said daringly,
boldly, "I accept what you offer. I will become what you are and stay by your
side for as long as you wish me to do so." I was shocked at how brave the words
sounded to my ears.

	"Are you certain that you wish to choose this path? Once the transformation is
complete, there will be no return. It would be impossible to do so. The only way
to undo it would be to die and that would truly be a tragic incident." He warned
me.

I paused for a moment as a mere formality and repeated, "I accept what you
offer."

	He smiled softly, a hand brushing over my cheek as he said, "My brave little
angel, willing to go that far to be with me."

	"It is not only for you that I do this, love, but for myself as well. There is
so much I wish to learn and with this gift you are offering I will have eternity
to do so. Also, I could not live without your love." I answered softly.

	"I am flattered that you feel the way you do." He said.

	"You ought to be." I replied. "I know I would, were I in your position."

	"I feel the same way, as I thought you already knew." He said, confusion
apparent in his tone and his face.

	"Oh, I do know!" I told him quickly, realizing what my words must have meant to
him.

	"Of course. I just wanted to hear the words come from your lips." He replied,
his look of confusion turning to amusement.

	I moved even closer to him, so that there was barely room for air between us. I
reached up and put a hand on the back of his neck. I gazed at him with eyes as
blue as his own. He bent his head slightly and out lips met in a searing kiss.
When he backed away from me, I pulled his head back down with the hand that was
still on the nape of his neck, to my throat. "Drink from me, make me what you
are. I am not afraid."

	He pulled away from me, his eyes glowing with their unearthly light once again.
"You are lying. I feel you shiver at my touch." he said, his voice changed in a
way so slight that I could not place how it had been altered.

	"I am not afraid. Take me, Alexander, make me yours." I whispered.

	Alexander groaned. "You tempt me so, but I must not. I wish for you to attend
your first ball as a mortal, for this new existence will alter all of your
senses so that you never see, smell, hear, or feel anything the same again. In a
few days, I promise I will bring you to me, bond the two of us so that our
emotions will be combined and we will know what the other is thinking at all
time, and we will know when the other is in pain. Also, you must be introduced
to some of my kind . . . friends of mine. They will not harm you. They know I
have chosen you for my companion." He assured me.

	"S'il vous plait." I implored him, stroking the nape of his neck. I heard him
groan again, and saw the deadly fangs that could destroy me, or make me
immortal.

	"I cannot." he said, releasing me completely and turning away from me.

	The letter opener that he had driven through his hand only a few minutes ago
lay on the floor where I had dropped it. I picked it up, the blade still stained
crimson from Alexander's blood. I tested the end; it was very sharp. I lifted my
wrist to it and breathed in deeply as I cut the pale and tender flesh with it,
perhaps it really was a knife, I had no knowledge of such things then. I felt
the warm flow of blood as well as the pain.

	I walked in front of Alexander, where he was trying to bring his lust under
control and held out my wrist to him. "If you will not take me now, at least
drink a little, satiate the hunger that must be raging within you." I told him.

	"Christine, you are in pain. You cut yourself too deeply." he said, taking the
wounded wrist in his two hands.

	"I did not. You are merely trying to make an acceptable excuse. There is barely
any flow of blood. Drink." I told him.

	He lowered his lips to the wound and kissed the crimson stain. His eyes closed
as he tasted the blood and then he moved away from me. "I cannot. I feel your
fear, taste it in your blood. I will not take what you offer as long as there is
fear. I also have other reasons. I will bring on the transformation in a few
days, after you have attended your ball and have met my friends, the ones who
share this existence along with me." I heard him say, unable to see his face.
My heart began to beat faster at the mention of his 'friends'. He turned and
looked at me. "They will not harm you. They know I have chosen you for my
companion." He assured me. I smiled in relief. Alexander called for a servant.
"You should have your wound attended to." he said.

	He called again for a servant and one came almost immediately and dressed the
wound. He shot me a glance curiously, but I merely smiled and remained silent.

	After the servant left, Alexander turned to me and said, "I will have one of my
servants take you to the best dressmaker I know and you can pick the most
beautiful pattern you can find, and that dress will be yours." He smiled when he
saw my eyes light up at the thought of a beautiful ball gown. I saw myself in
the dress of my dreams. He added, "It will be for you to wear in two weeks to
your first and only ball as a mortal."

	"Merci, beaucoup, Alexander. Surely this is still a dream and I will awake to
find myself on that rock, wearing a rag dress with work awaiting me at home." I
told him, having a hard time believing my luck in finding and winning this
angel's heart.

	"This is not a dream. I assure you of that. It is destiny, as I must have told
you at least ten times before this moment." He told me, slightly scolding me,
putting a finger to my lips to silence my words.

	"Forgive me." I said meekly.

	"Forgiven." He said, drawing me close. When he pulled away again, he said,
"Rest now and I will see you at sunset."

	Adieu, mon amour." I said after him. Suddenly I had his voice inside my head
saying, "Sweet dreams, my love. Je' teime." I smiled as I realized that he must
have powers over the mind to be able to speak inside of one's head as he had
just demonstrated. I sighed and turned to prepare for bed, noticing that I was
now sleeping as vampires did, during the day, awaiting the sun before rising. It
made me feel uncomfortable but I told myself that this decision was the release
I had been seeking all along, that immortality was the answer I sought. With
Alexander I could live forever and taste of all the pleasures this world could
offer. I slept then, dreaming of the next night, hoping it would be as magical
as the one just passed.

	I awoke the next night quickly, anxiously waiting for Alexander to inform me of
the things we would do between the hours of sunset and sunrise. I gasped when I
saw a beautiful dress of red velvet laying on the trunk at the end of my bed
along with the other accessories I would need.

	No sooner had I gotten out of bed than a maid walked in, a towel over one arm
and a pail of rose water in one hand. She silently walked over to one side of
the room and pulled a screen from behind a curtain. She went into one of the
closets I had not noticed was there and pulled out a tub. She filled the tub and
then turned to me.

	"What is your name?" I asked her.

	"Angelique, madame." She answered softly.

	"You are a beautiful young girl." I told the girl who looked barely twelve
years old.

	She blushed and answered, "I am to be your personal maid, Madame."

	"Call me Christine. I hope we can be good friends, Angelique." I told her.

	"I do too, Christine." She said.

	"Perhaps our gracious host will one day grant me the favor of a dress for you
to wear. A dark green, would match your complexion and eyes best I believe." I
told her, seeing her in emerald green, the shade of her eyes, with her
light-brown hair held back with gold combs. I watched her face light up with the
thought.

	"Do you really think the Count would be so kind?" she asked hopefully.

	"I believe something can be done." A voice behind us said.

	Angelique and I turned together, startled, and found Alexander leaning casually
against the door to my bedroom . Angelique hid behind me in fear, gazing in
wonder at my dark angel from behind my back. He smiled at her and she blushed a
crimson red, ducking out of sight.

	"Forgive me for my haste in offering what I am not sure you would be willing to
give." I said with downcast eyes.

	He placed his hand under my chin and lifted it so he could gaze into my eyes. "
I will give you anything you ask of me. Angelique will be wearing green velvet
before the end of the week."

	The poor child could not help herself. She ran into Alexander's arms and hugged
him fiercely. For a moment he was startled and then his arms closed around her.
"Merci, Count McClear." she whispered. I smiled, thinking of how the girl must
feel, remembering how I felt when he had first embraced me. Angelique drew away
from him a moment later, blushing at her boldness at hugging the master of the
house but all Alexander did was place a kiss on her cheek and promise her the
dress. He rose up and stood before me, staring, Angelique's gaze going back and
forth between us. Alexander leaned forward and kissed my lips. Angelique
politely turned away.

	"Bathe and dress. We will go to the dressmaker's shop tonight. I have payed her
to leave it open for us. The sooner we arrive, the sooner your dress will be
completed and you will be able to go to your first ball. Hurry now." he told me
and placed a kiss on my brow before leaving.

	When I was dressed, I turned around corners and walked down hallways until I
managed to find my way through the maze of halls to the main staircase where
Alexander was waiting with the carriage. He helped me inside and we hurried to
the dress shop. My heart beat in anticipation of the dress, and my mind wandered
over what must be a marvelous and enchanting existence for Alexander. He said
nothing but turned from the window to smile at my expression from time to time.

	We reached the small shop before late. We went inside and I was seated in a
chair by the woman who owned the shop. She began bringing books of patterns to
me. I gasped as I turned the pages. These dresses were all so beautiful. I spent
hours going over them with the owner while Alexander came and went.

	"May I show you a pattern I believe you will like?" Alexander asked me finally.
I nodded. He picked up a book I had yet to go over and turned it to a certain
page. He gazed at it a moment and then handed it to me. I saw the dress I had
been searching for printed on the paper. It was the shade of my eyes and low
cut, trimmed in pearls and snow-white lace. Petticoats trimmed with ribbon the
same color as the dress peeked from below the hem. I instantly fell in love with
it. " Oh, Alexander." I said.

	He came behind me, stroking my neck with one pale finger. I repressed the
shiver I felt, for I knew what would happen in a few nights. " Is this the one
you desire?" he asked me. I felt his lips graze my throat.

	"Oui, I would like this one very much." I told him.

	" Then it is the one you shall have. I cannot wait to see you wearing it next
week. During that time, there will be other parties for you to attend, but they
will not be as grand as your first ball, believe me." he told me, kissing my
neck once again. I turned to him and he kissed my lips, the owner watching us in
interest. He realized where we were and backed away from my chair, instructing
the dressmaker to make the dress as he handed her a purse of coins.

	"I do not want to cost you more than I am worth, Alexander." I told him, seeing
how much he had just handed the woman in payment for the dress.

	"You are worth more money than this earth could possibly contain, mon cher and
unselfish Christine. Never worry about money for as you know, that will never be
a problem any longer. What you want, you receive, and I chose you because the
wealth will not change your modesty and your personality, though my other gift
most likely will." he told me, not mentioning what the 'gift' was because of the
shop owner still watching us attentively.

I blushed and looked down. Alexander took hold of my arm and I stood. We headed
back to the carriage. Once inside, he kissed me. "Thank you for giving me so
much." I told him, putting a hand to his face. He turned his mouth to my fingers
and kissed them as well.

	I leaned back against the seat and closed my eyes, listening to his soft,
cultured voice tell me of the things that would happen to me and the change that
I would undergo in a few days. My heart beat faster as he told me of the process
in which it would occur, his voice softening even more, as if he felt
embarrassed by telling me this. It seemed a very intimate thing and I shared my
thoughts with him. He smiled, seeming slightly amused but touched and told me
that most assuredly it was intimate and that we would each know every thought
the other was thinking and that we would know every dark secret the other had
kept from others, including ourselves. This transformation would be the moment
of truth, he told me, the point of no return. He asked me again if I wanted to
go through with it and I placed a kiss on his lips, removing all doubt from his
mind.

	He leaned back and smiled, seeming relieved that I had not changed my mind
about what he had to offer me. I was still the same, still seeking to have
eternity to live, to learn all I wished to know. The realization that this would
come to pass still had a dreamlike quality, but I had come to find that most
things of the past few days had seemed that way. The way that Alexander had
driven the letter opener into his own hand still amazed me, that he would go
through that pain just to prove his announcement true. Surely he wants me to be
a part of this, I thought, watching the stars through the carriage window as it
quickly moved back to the house I had come to know as simply McClear House, as
many of the manors were given the name of its master. It certainly made finding
someone a lot easier, it seemed to me.

We returned to Alexander's home, my home, as I was corrected when I had made the
mistake of referring to it as only his residence. It seemed we were married,
except for the quarreling, the affairs, and private parties the men and a few
daring women would attend, noted for their sexual influences. I had never
attended one, but I had heard rumors throughout my childhood, having sought
every tidbit, no matter how unimportant it seemed to anyone else. I imagined
that these parties were very shocking and hoped that I would never need to
attend one, or want to, for that matter.

	Alexander left me for his own personal affairs and I proceeded to spend the few
hours remaining of darkness to explore more of the manor. I met some of the
servants and spoke with Anthony, Alexander's valet. He even allowed me a peek at
Alexander's sleeping quarters. It seemed as if it were the least decorated of
any that I had seen so far. His sitting rooms contained a fire place in which a
fire burned gloriously, filling the room with a warm light, and there was an old
desk, most likely an antique, along with a few plush-covered chairs and sofas. I
left unimpressed.

	Anthony showed me around the guest rooms and introduced me to the part-time
cook, who was not needed unless Count McClear decided to have guests over for a
few days. I raised my eyebrows, wondering if Alexander was inviting mortals or
vampires. I came to the conclusion that they must be mortal, for he had summoned
the cook after all. I gave him pointers on a few things I had learned while in
my other home. He seemed surprised that I would know such things. I remembered
then that I was a noblewoman and most did not spend their time learning how to
cook.

	The chef, whose name was Leonardo, named off the menu for the following night.
It was my turn to be surprised. He and all the other servants I had met were
treating me as if I were already Mistress of the manor. To test this out, I
asked Leonardo if he would serve white wine as well as red at dinner.
"Certainly, Lady Devereaux." he replied. I bid him farewell, feeling a little
guilty for treating him the way that I would have been treated last week had I
been blessed with the opportunity to become a chef or servant in a fine house of
Paris, but I reasoned that I best follow Alexander's advice and become
accustomed to it, for my station was now that of a noblewoman's and I had best
learn the proper etiquette and fashion or I would never acquire a suitable
reputation as a noblewoman. I had already learned to read, for my family had
always been proud of the ability, even though most families of our station never
got to learn.

	I remembered Alexander's comment to me that one night under the stars as I
headed for my rooms, finally being able to satisfactorily navigate through the
manor to the hall they were located on. I care not what society thinks of me . .
. if so, who cares? I realized that I did not share his opinion in this matter.
But, I reasoned within myself, after a few centuries have passed, I most likely
will feel the same as he does now.

	I undressed and climbed into bed, closing my mind to all thought, merely
looking forward to the rest and dreams that would be spent on a feather mattress
and satin pillow. I drifted off to sleep, feeling a presence near, knowing it to
be Alexander's. I smiled softly and felt his lips brush mine before entering the
soothing and strength-restoring darkness.

	I awoke with a start. I had dreamed of the night "The Power" would be given to
me, the process itself. It frightened me greatly, for it seemed at that moment
completely unlike what Alexander had described to me. I trembled, wondering if I
should dare go to his rooms and seek comfort. Before I could decide he came in,
coming to sit beside me on the bed, smoothing my hair and touching my face,
asking if I were all right, asking me what had frightened me so. I told him and
he held me, rocking back and forth, telling me to stop trembling. "It is not so
bad as your dream interpreted it to be. I will not mar your beautiful skin,
though I will have to bite. It will leave two puncture marks and the first few
seconds will be painful but it is certainly not anything to worry about." he
explained once more.

	"Forgive me, mon cher, for having disturbed you. Did you hear my thoughts to
know that I needed you near?" I asked him.

"I sensed your fear and heard your thoughts and assumed that I should come and
calm you before you changed your mind and this experience frightened you away
from me. Do you know the effect that denial would have upon me?"he said in
answer.

	"I shall never leave you. Even, should it turn out that you cause me the pain I
saw in my dream, it will be worth it all to stay by your side as an immortal the
same as you, and be with you throughout the centuries." I told him. I saw in his
eyes the slightest hint of doubt but he did not choose to voice whatever he did
not believe. I sensed that he knew something about this that I did not but I
decided to let it pass. Why cause more problems? I reasoned within myself. I am
almost certain that Alexander heard every thought going through my mind at that
moment, but remained silent.

	"I have invited some guests to be staying here at McClear House for a time." he
informed me.

	"Forgive me, for I already know. Yesterday I wandered about some and met some
of the servants and also requested that the chef serve white wine as well as red
tonight at dinner. I hope that you do not mind." I said, blushing with
embarrassment.

	"It is quite all right for you to go about this house. It is yours now as well.
Of course I do not mind that you requested white instead of red, though I am
almost certain that you have had neither in your lifetime." he said to me with a
glint of amusement in his eyes. I blushed deeper, humiliated at how transparent
my use of power had been to him. He must be incredibly intelligent, or
incredibly ancient, to be able to notice that a young girl had never before had
wine or that she was trying out her wings in the aristocrat's world. I thought.

	"These acquaintances of yours, are they mortal?" I asked him.

	"Certainly. It would not be very appropriate for me to invite my other
acquaintances here to stay for a few days while you are still not yet one of us.
Our unique hunger can cause us to do irrational things and you are to be my
companion and I am determined to be the one to give The Power to you, as our
tradition is. It would greatly inconvenience me to need to kill one of my
compatriots for invading my territory." he explained to me.

	"Of course." I answered, agreeing, as I most certainly did.

Alexander smiled and held out a hand to me, which I took. "Would you enjoy
helping me to prepare for the guests that will be arriving shortly?" he asked.

	"I would much rather have you inform me on how to act, what to say, what I
should wear tonight to greet the guests in." I told him, looking at my nightgown
and running my fingers through my tangled hair. He seemed to have just noticed
that I had not been properly attired when he had come into my room to comfort
me.

	"Of course, forgive me for my ignorance. I will tell you anything you need to
know of proper etiquette, though I suspect that it will come naturally to you.
Angelique will know what will be appropriate for you to wear and there are
plenty of gowns for her to choose from, for I had a dressmaker make the best and
send them here ahead of time." he informed me. We sat back on my bed and he
began telling me of the things I should watch for and be aware of and some of
the common greetings used by noblewomen, told me to be prepared for much gossip
about everyone in the house, perhaps even myself. I was appalled and Alexander
laughed at my expression, telling me that I would quickly grow accustomed to
such behavior from the members of the aristocracy.

	I sat cross-legged and listened to the information he was giving me and ignored
the nagging thought that I must look like a wide-eyed little girl sitting in
such fashion and looking the way I did in nightgown and tousled hair. Alexander
heard these thoughts and answered me telepathically, a strange and wondrous
ability, that I was anxious to possess as well. He told me to be patient at this
thought, informing me that the appropriate time would eventually come.

	When he was through briefing me, he called for Angelique and gave her a few
instructions. He leaned over me and placed a quick kiss on my brow and left me,
and I saw Angelique's awed stare as he walked out of the room, pausing to bestow
one of his charming smiles on her. The girl's expression was one of pure
worship. I smiled to myself, knowing her emotions as well as my own.

	Angelique hurried to carry out the orders Alexander had given her, bringing in
rose water--which I was beginning to think of as my signature scent--and going
to the wardrobe to pull out a dress of dark green--the color she was now proudly
wearing--with a bow in the back, complete with a hat with green feathers in it.

	I hastened to bathe and dress, and when Angelique told me that I was beautiful
and dressed most fashionably, I thanked her and went downstairs to find
Alexander.

	I found him in the main hallway, greeting guests as they came. I was amazed
that there were so many people he had invited. I went and stood beside him and
he whispered in my ear softly, "You are truly a wonder to behold. Go into the
dining room and dine with our guests and mingle. I will remain in the card room
until after dinner, for my body cannot tolerate the scent of food."

	I looked at him nervously before leaving. I could hear his silent message in my
thoughts telling me that everything would be all right, everyone would love me
and if they did not he would still be there. Slightly reassured, I entered the
dining room to see how I would do.

	People were in groups talking, the women sitting in a corner of the room in
plush-covered chairs gossiping, the men standing around the wine table talking
and arguing over politics, while drinking the wine or mixed drink of their
choice. One man looked over in my direction and tapped another on the shoulder
and pointed at me. The man turned, and when he saw me, he smiled openly. I
blushed, smiling shyly back before the women noticed my entrance and a few chose
to slowly come to where I stood to ask questions and stare with appraising
looks.

	I answered the questions as best I could, making a false background for myself
to make it seem as though I came from a noble life. I was amazed at how easy the
lies fell from my lips. They led me to where they were sitting and continued
gossiping where they had left off, including me in the conversation, telling me
whose wife or husband had taken a lover. I informed them that I was new to this
part of France and had yet to meet many people, very few in fact. This statement
caused them to tell me who was of good standing and who was not, whose parties
to attend, and which ones to avoid, and which family's balls they considered
most elegant. I listened attentively, committing everything to memory to use at
a later date. I sat quietly, listening to the women around me and watching their
movements and expressions. I focused on one by the title of Countess Anne
de'Larouse speak of how a girl named Nichole had been sleeping with the Count
Montgeoffry's oldest son, who was betrothed to another woman. I began to slowly
tune them out as I grew bored. I would have rather talked of books and music and
art, though I did not know much of such things at the time.

	I snapped back to attention when Alexander's voice intruded into my thoughts.
Christine, look at me. I looked up to see him across the room, watching me with
a serious expression upon his face. I smiled softly and the Countess de'Larouse
saw it, looking over her shoulder to see whom I was smiling at. When she saw who
it was, she commented, "There is a fine choice."

	I looked back her and asked, "Pardonez moi?" I had not been able to discern her
tone of voice.

	"The Count McClear is a fine choice for one such as you. He is very respectable
and he seems quite taken, for he stares intently." she told me and then returned
to gossiping about this girl named Nicole.

	Alexander spoke in my mind, I need you to come to me. Some of my other friends
have unexpectedly arrived here, anxious to meet you. You will be safe, I assure
you. Come now, for they will grow impatient. I quickly and politely excused
myself, hurrying to where Alexander was waiting. The women gazed after me in
curiosity. Alexander linked arms with me, smiled and bowed at the ladies, and we
left.

	"Be calm, Christine. Slow you heart. They will sense your fear and it may
insult them. I know not for certain. You have nothing to be afraid of. You are
under my protection and none of them will dare to cross me. Now, that is
better." he told me as we walked to one of the sitting rooms on the second floor
of the manor. He opened the door and I suddenly saw around the room, five
vampires whose gazes came to rest on me. I breathed deeply and preceded
Alexander into the room.

Next Chapter



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