When Lilian entered her father’s study Lord Dreane was in the middle of one of his famous long-winded speeches. She knew better than to interrupt him – she sat down at the back and observed other people present in the room. There was of course the butler, her father’s most reliable helper; next to him sat Mark and two other young men, unknown to her; one black-haired and pale who, she tought, looked so foreign that he must have been Henri the vampire and the other with straw-blond hair and pale grey eyes. All of them were listening avidly and she had to admit her father’s speech was quite interesting that time. It concerned their current problems with Lara the rouge vampiress.
Lilian noticed a ghost of a smile on Master Lawrence’s face – he was the man or rather the vampire with straw hair. She also saw how excited Mark became at the mere mention of Lara and her visit. It made her very confused. She would say the boy was insanely happy at the mere prospect of seeing that monster again.
“My lord, will you need my assistance?” asked Mark grinning widely, all eagerness and zeal.
Lord Dreane eyed him and shook his head.
“No my boy, it is obvious you can’t come close to Lara yet. This time I will ask for help my old friend and butler, Roze, who has been working with me longer and is far more experienced than you. Thanks for offering, though, I do appreciate. We will need all help we can get.”
Lilian could see at once that Mark didn’t appreciate that answer at all for a change – he looked like a deflated baloon now. She frowned. Wasn’t he supposed to be just a little bit in love with her? Why wasn’t he afraid of that horrible monster who treated him so cruelly? Only questions, no answers…She noticed the dark-haired vampire glancing at her and blushed. The blushing made her even more angry with herself and, strangely, with Mark as well. She bit her lips. It seems everybody was right now too busy to take care of her curiosity. In other words nothing new. She sighed.
Lara was never one for strategic planning. When she played any game, cards or chess, she always tried to charm her way to victory. Usually, if the dress was sufficiently low-cut she succeeded nine times out of ten so she didn’t see any reason why change her tactics. Her current situation was different, though. Lord Dreane was immune to vampire charms and she didn’t know who else she might face in his manor. She also didn’t have any backup plan or allies. It made her recklessly mad. Her prospects were bleak anyway so why bother with a backup plan or any plan at all? She did the first thing that came to her head – died her hair ash blonde, combed them and let them down, put the last clean low-cut dress on, went to Dreane Manor and knocked at the door as cool as cucumber. The door was opened by a butler. He looked at her impassively for some moments as if unsure how to proceed, and finally asked:
“Good afternoon, my dear butler. I am lady Larissa Hawe and I am visiting friends in this area. Unfortunately my coach has been immobilized not so long ago. It seems one of the horses broke a leg, stupid animal. I sent the coachman for help but I am thirsty. Could you be so kind and offer me a glass of water?”
The butler didn’t even blink. All was going exactly as predicted by his lordship – a lady arrived alone, dressed quite inappropriately for the occasion, and her story was as cock-and-bull as you could think of at short notice. It was her. He relaxed and smiled.
“Of course. Please, do come in my lady. Would you like some tea? Maybe wine? Or brandy? Such a horrible misadventure would have been a trial on anybody’s nerves…” he was chattering pleasantly while ushering Lara to a comfortable armchair in one of the smaller sitting rooms.
“I think I will take some tea, thank you,” answered Lara graciously.
She sat down, preparing herself for a quick dash out of the room as soon as possible but, to her dismay, the butler didn’t go out to bring her the cup but just ringed a bell. A maid entered the room, she was ordered to bring some tea and she returned with a tray in no time. “Very efficient service,” thought Lara but somehow it didn’t make her suspicious.
The butler, as he had been told earlier, stood all the time in a reverential pose next to the doors. As soon as the tray was put on a little table next to the armchair he poured Lara her cup and handed it to her with a polite bow. She smiled and took a small sip, preparing herself for bland, barely tepid mixture of tea leaves and water, usually served in England. To her utter surprise the tea tasted splendidly; in fact drinking it was a bilss. She continued until the last drop found its way to her mouth and the cup was empty. The butler filled it again immediately, without even asking her permission. She simply gulped it, not even trying to stop herself. It tasted like heaven and she wanted more.
“I never knew I was that thirsty. Could you pour me another cup, please?”
“Of course, ma’am,” the butler poured her a third cup with a pleasant face, simply emanating sympathy and friendliness. She drank it as quick as the second one. A tingling warmth spread along her shoulders and arms, reached her chest and tights. She felt good, relaxed and cheerful, all her anger and sadness forgotten. At that point the butler ringed again and a cloaked figure entered the room. Lara recognized him at once – it was Lawrence, the local vampire Master. He bowed his head and asked:
“Lara, are you ready to give me your answer?”
Lara smiled almost despite herself. No-nonsense, straight to the point – she loved such a direct approach. Something stirred her memories, some dark thoughts and warning bells, but she couldn’t focus long enough to remind herself what they were supposed to mean. Lawrence’s scent was so enticing…it was similar to the tea she’s just drunk. Sweet, lovely and desirable. She went closer to him even before she decided she wanted to do so, pulled as if by an invisible magnet. He extended his hand and she took it without any hestiation.
“Yes, Master Lawrence. Whatever you want,” murmured Lara dreamily.
“I want you in my coven and under my protection.”
“Will you take an oath of fealty right now?”
“Yes, I will.” Why shouldn’t she? It sounded like such a good idea.
She kneeled and kissed his hand. He raised her and kissed her vulnerable, exposed neck. Warmed by the tea Lara craved more skin contact after that kiss. She looked straight into his eyes and attacked his lips in one ferocious and determined movement. While he was kissing her back quite enthusiastically, her fangs scratched his lips. A coppery, salty-sweet taste exploded on her tongue, making her moan with delight. It was the taste of her tea. Her tea had been spiked with the Master vampire blood. Strangely that revelation didn’t make Lara angry, quite the opposite – she finally let herself melt into his arms, his body, and his kiss as if it was the most natural thing to do, then she started tracing his jaw with her tongue and bitting his neck. The blood she drew was delicious – ten times better than anything she had tried so far – and all of a sudden it made her mad with desire. Lawrence started to nuzzle her generous décolletage, leaving a trail of his own teeth marks. She began shedding her clothes. He joined her after a moment. They were so busy they didn’t realize that the smirking butler went out, giving them some privacy. ‘Mission accomplished’, he announced quietly to Lord Dreane, waiting outside. Both men shook hands and smiled knowingly.
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