The Tale Of The Vampire Bride Page 1

Author: Rhiannon Frater

Series: Vampire Bride #1

Genres: Horror , Fantasy

Chapter 1

The Journal of Lady Glynis Wright,

The Castle

4th of August, 1819

There is no solace in this place. I struggle to find it, but it eludes me. I have drifted through this castle like a specter, seeking to find one shred of comfort. This place is death. It reeks of it. Tastes of it. I can hear its cries on the wind, and I cannot hide from its cold touch.

How very odd that this sad little journal, with its tattered pages and frayed binding, should be my only companion. Yes, there are the others, but I am angry with them. I would rather curl up in this corner and record all that has occurred in this terrible place.

The death, the pain, the much blood...

It seems only proper to commit to paper the trials I have suffered, even if no one shall ever read this journal.

Sweet little diary, you are my one and only friend. Let me pour my words into you.

I shall write until my story in this place is fully told...

The cruel beauty of my surroundings filled me with a sense of dread, and I slipped one of my small-gloved hands under my father’s strong, yet gentle fingers. With a tender smile, my father cradled my hand against his bony knee, squeezing it gently. I drew comfort from this small gesture of love as I gazed out at the brutal, majestic beauty of the Carpathian Mountains beyond the dirty carriage window.

Tilting my chin, I stared toward the high summits looming above the pass. The dark red curls framing my face danced in a breeze that was a soothing balm to my flushed skin.

Allow me pause to describe myself; I am a strange looking creature with the light olive complexion of my Italian mother and the red hair of my British father. My features have been described as classical: large aquamarine eyes, Roman nose, and a perfect little rosebud mouth.

“What do you think, my dearest?” Father asked me.

I smiled ruefully. “It’s bloody awful.”

“What an improper response for a young lady,” Mother chided.

My mother sat across from my father, as dignified as one could be in a lurching carriage. With hair the color of bronze, eyes as blue as the Mediterranean, and her fine features still containing the illusion of youth, beautiful was the only word to describe my mother. Her one flaw was her sharp tongue, which was quicker and deadlier than any sword, or so my father liked to declare.

“What should I say then?

My mother sighed and flung out a hand in exasperation. “She is your daughter, Edric. Please speak to her. I have not the strength left after this abominable ride.” She gave me one sharp piercing look, then turned to comfort my sister.

May sat wan and sickly, her dark blue eyes gazing fearfully from beneath her bonnet at the view beyond the carriage. I adored my younger sister, but she was always timid and fearful. I was forced to bully her into any adventure we undertook. She had not taken well to traveling and always seemed sick during our transits, whether by water or by land. “I believe we are going to fall down this mountain, Mama.”

“Don’t say such a thing, cara mia. We shall reach the village soon, and all will be well.”

“She never calls me cara mia,” I whispered to my father.

“There, there,” Father said in a rather bored voice, patting my hand.

The journey had been long and tiresome. We were all so very weary and cantankerous.

“Well, if we do fall off the mountain, I’m sure it will be quite a relief from all this traveling. One last bit of excitement in our boring lives,” I decided.

“Glynis, really,” Mother scolded.

Ignoring her, I opened the carriage window and leaned out to peer down the steep drop that lay a mere two feet from the spinning wheels of the carriage.

“Mama, make her stop!” May cried out, burying her face in Mother’s shoulder.

“Really, Glynis! Have you no sense at all? Why do you wish to upset your sister so?”

I bristled under my mother’s scolding as Father intoned, “There, there,” patting her hand to soothe her.

Instead of coddling May, as Mother was wont to do, I decided to irk them both even more. I was incredibly tired of the two of them being so decidedly female about the entire journey. So, I leaned even further out the window and flashed my mother a defiant smile.

“Glynis, pull your head back in here! I cannot believe your daughter, Edric!”

I realized that my mother’s Italian temper was about to get the best of her. As I did not wish her to scold Father for my disobedience, I sat back in my seat with a petulant sigh. Fluffing up my skirts, I perched primly and proceeded to glare at her.

“Do not look at me like that, young lady! If you had behaved yourself in Venezia, Roma, Firenze, and even in Paris, we would not have to be here now in this abominable place,” Mother scolded.

She had a point. The entire purpose of our travels abroad were to find suitable husbands for me and my dear sister May. Our English suitors found me far too outspoken and my sister far too passive. Plus, we were a bit too foreign for many of the English aristocracy because of our Italian mother. Even her Medici lineage did not help us find favor amongst the nobility.

“I do not want a husband,” I responded coyly.

“Oh, really? And what is it that you want?”

“A series of young lovers.” There! I knew that would send her over the edge at me and spare Father her wrath.

Instead, Mother narrowed her eyes and turned her gaze sharply to my father. “Edric! See, do you see, what you have permitted?”

“She is trying to provoke you, dearest.”

I could not help, but smile. Father knew me so well. I was really quite bored and restless. And when I am bored and restless, I tend to behave rather badly.

“She is the way she is because of you!”

“Perhaps,” Father said. He tilted his head to regard me, smiling at me affectionately.

I mirrored his actions and relaxed slightly. Despite Mother’s constant chiding, I felt quite secure in who she was: my adoring, temperamental mother. And I knew that Father would always come to my defense. He adored my outspokenness as much as he did my mother's. Many times he told me how like her I am, and that is why he did not want to change me. If he loved my mother for all her fiery temper, then some man would love me for the same reason.

“Look, Glynis. See those graves there at the crossroads. The peasants of this country believe if you bury criminals at the crossroads they will not be able to return from the dead.”

“Really?” I immediately leaned over to see, my eyes filled with morbid curiosity.

“Oh, how dreadful!” May gasped, looking even more pale than before.

“Do you see what you are doing, Edric? Again, you are only promoting her outlandishness. Why, why, Glynis can you not act like a proper young lady?”

“I do act like a proper young lady, Mother. Everyone adored me in Italy except for the men. It is my mouth that gets me into trouble. Remember? That is what you always remark.” I regarded her with wide, innocent eyes.

“That tongue of yours. Where did you get it?” Mother sighed, growing weary of the argument.

“I wonder,” Father said in a soft voice. A small smile played across his lips.

Mother looked piqued, then she relaxed and smiled. “I will say no more! We are all exhausted by this tedious journey. Let us think of more pleasant matters.”

“I feel so very sick.” May moaned as she tried to brace herself in the lurching carriage.

“We do seem to be traveling awfully fast,” Father decided. He unfastened the window beside him and slid it open. Leaning out of the carriage window, he shouted, “Ovidiu, why are we moving so rapidly?”

I could not hear the response over the rattling of the carriage, but when Father sat back, his expression was one of bewilderment.

“What did he say?” Mother demanded.

“He said that the night is approaching and we must reach the village before darkness falls. Then he said the oddest thing.”

“Which was?” I asked.

“The dead travel fast,” Father answered in a mystified tone.

“Savages. They are all superstitious savages.” Mother sniffed, continuing to coddle May.

“And you want me to marry one,” I said.

“There, there, enough of that,” Father droned, his gaze a bit hazy as he pondered the meaning of Ovidiu’s words.

“I wish we would get to the village soon,” May said. “I feel so sick!”

“I hope we never get there,” I said with a pout.

“Please, Glynis, you must be kind to our host.” Mother reached out to me. “This man is a very respected member of Hungarian Society. Sir Stephen said he has had many dealings with the Count, and he has a very high opinion of him.”

“But we do not even know him! And I certainly do not remember meeting this Count at any of the dinner parties we attended!” I ignored my mother’s imploring hand and glared at her. I honestly did not recall meeting any such man at any of the events my parents had insisted we attend. Of course, I had deliberately avoided spending too much time with anyone who seemed sincerely interested in me.

I did remember one particular night when I had felt chills down my back and had known someone was watching me. I had never been able to figure out who it had been, but the experience had made me feel horribly uneasy. With my sort of luck, the unknown admirer was the man who had summoned my family to his estate high in the Carpathian Mountains. I was sure it was some disgusting old man who wanted nothing more than a nubile young body to satisfy his lascivious lust. Little did I realize how close to the mark I was in my ruminations…

Mother threw up her hands. “Edric, please deal with your daughter!”

Father reached over and pressed my hand firmly. “There, there, Glynis.”

I felt a hot anger welling up within me. I hated that my parents dared to believe they could just tell me who to marry and expect me to be agreeable! This Count was probably an ugly old man with no hair and bad teeth. I did not care to meet with this stranger that was so enamored with me. I had not liked his calligraphy: all loopy and fancy. And that ugly seal on the letter disgusted me. A dragon, of all things!

“You would be a Countess if you married this gentleman,” Mother said, attempting to pacify me.

I made a face and pointedly stared out the window at the winding road we were so precariously traveling. I found myself almost wishing we would fall off the mountain. Death must be a lovely, poetic thing. Angels would pluck my soul from my shattered body and fly me up to Heaven. Yes, that would be better than marrying some old, bald, fat Count.

“You must be nice to the Count. You simply must be pleasant,” Mother said firmly. She sounded very desperate. “Please, my darling, please!”

“Glynis, do not aggravate your mother,” Father said.

The carriage lurched suddenly and the horses whinnied. I was pitched over into my mother, and we both fell to the floor as the carriage careened upwards off the road into the brush. We struggled back into our seats as the carriage continued to lurch about.

May swooned in our mother’s arms.

“Edric!” Mother clutched May tightly as we were swung about.

Father leaned out the window and shouted at the driver to stop. He was nearly jolted right out the window by the wild shimmy of the carriage.

I braced myself as well as I could as I wondered if my hasty death wish was about to come true. I was not so certain that I wanted to die in this strange land.

Abruptly, our steep ascent ceased, and we were all tossed into a heap on the floor.

Father thrust the door open and hopped out of the still rocking carriage.

In a loud voice, he demanded, “What in God’s name is going on?”

Our guide, Ovidiu, and the driver were already speaking anxiously in their native language, gesturing wildly.

“Good God, man, did you hear me? What is happening?”

I stumbled out of the carriage and stood next to my father, shaken and tucking my curls under my bonnet.

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