“I’ll give you a moment with your thoughts Miss Stafford.” Vladislaus said heading toward the door to the room.
“Not going to call me Liz huh?” Elizabeth smiled at his retreating form.
“Join me downstairs when you’re ready and I’ll give you the ten-cent tour.”
Liz took a moment to look around the room and saw a door that she hadn’t noticed upon entering. She opened the door not sure if she would find a closet or another room.
It was a restroom.
Obviously, the toilet wouldn’t be needed, but the shower and the sink made her feel at home. Elizabeth took a moment to wash her hands and splash a bit of water on her face to freshen up from traveling.
As she left behind the tranquility of the bedroom, she heard the most beautiful, yet haunting music ascend the space. She peered below and saw Vladislaus with his head bowed over the keys of the pipe organ. The music nearly brought tears to her eyes and pulled at her heart.
She crept soundlessly down the stairs and stood near him as the final notes rang through the room. “That was beautiful.”
“Thank you, just a little something of my own creation. I have been playing the organ for many centuries. The usual melodies bored me long ago.”
“Well, I am very impressed.”
“No need to be really, it’s time more so than talent my dear. Come, let’s have that tour. Yes?” He rose gracefully from the bench and led her through the room in which the grand piano stood alone.
“Now, I imagine great feasts were prepared in here long ago,” he began in the rich voice as he swept through the archway into a kitchen. The walls were crumbling and spiders had made many years of homes in this room.
“Grand feasts indeed,” Elizabeth murmured as she trailed behind. She could understand the kitchen going unused, food wasn’t comfortable to eat for the most stoic, and to some it was downright nauseating, but to let any room in this grand house fall into such utter disrepair was a shame.
“To go along with those feasts, there was this magnificent dining hall.” He led her into the adjoining room. This room was in much better shape, but Elizabeth could see the layer of thick dust coating all the beautiful furniture.
She followed him out into the Foyer and found herself back at the stairs where they had begun. He gestured into a sitting room where she gazed upward at the generations of Straud family members gracing the walls.
“Is that your father?” Elizabeth gestured to the grand man in the center. The largest of the portraits.
“My Great Grand Sire actually. My father is the portrait to the left. That one, in profile,” he said somewhat dismissively and gestured to the smaller painted portrait and Elizabeth could immediately see the resemblance. “My Great Grand sire though,” pride lilted off Vladislaus’ tongue. “He was a magnificent vampire. He brought a long line of very power people into this life of darkness, beauty, brutality, and immortality. You are part of that lineage my dear. I called you God-daughter earlier, but I am actually your Grand Sire. We are bound by blood.”
Elizabeth felt goose-flesh rise on her arms and more than a bit of awe knowing she was part of this ancient and powerful line. She felt she had so much to learn! Gabriel and his coven had taught her nothing in her nearly 100 years as a vampire. They had carefully guarded their secrets and for that she was angry.
“I’m very glad to be here you know,” she said softly.
“Come, let me show you my personal space.”
He led her to a hallway that had stone stairs descending. She felt as if she were being afforded a glimpse into the vampire that Vladislaus was and was eager to learn everything about him and his world.
As they reached the bottom of the stairs, the chamber was softly lit by a warm glow from candles. It was an archaic room but meticulous, unlike the upstairs rooms, other than the pipe organ, Elizabeth understood the rooms on the first level got very little use. This was where Vladislaus spent his time. This was home to him.
The Count took a seat and invited Elizabeth to join him. “I’ve been waiting for someone to mentor for some time Miss Stafford. I’m honestly thrilled you decided to reach out to me. I don’t keep tabs on my progeny but I remember your father clearly. I turned him, so he wasn’t born Vampire. Unlike you. You will have many things easier, but unfortunately you don’t have a strong sense of humanity and that knowledge will be very important for you.”
Elizabeth didn’t know how to respond. She decided she better wait and learn exactly what he was offering.
“Now, Miss Stafford, you’ll have the use of my home, and I will teach you. There are a few others in the neighborhood I would trust with your education, but you must make certain to only train with Caleb, Lillith or myself. No one else will give you the training you’ll need to grow powerful.”
Elizabeth could hardly believe her ears. In the world she’d grown up in, power was closely guarded. Here training and becoming more powerful seemed to be thrown around like confetti.
“You’ll of course keep your room I showed you earlier and every convenience can be purchased for you.”
“Stay here? With you?”
“Of course, my dear. You are a child of my lineage. I welcome you.” his deep warm voice washed over her and wrapped her in a comforting sweater.
“Oh Count Stra… Vladislaus,” she stumbled. “I’m incredibly grateful for your offer,” she quickly rose to her feet.
“You have to believe that I am. But, I have seven more from Gabriel’s coven that want to join me here. I was really hoping to get started on my own as soon as possible and pave the way for them to come.”
Vladislaus’ face fell. “Oh, so you won’t be staying then?”
Elizabeth’s heart sank a bit, hating to hurt him when he’d been nothing but kind to her and seemed to be offering to open his world to her.
“For a short time, but I was hoping to be on my own by the end of the week.”
“Well, we’ll do what we can in that time then shall we?” Vladislaus rallied his spirits.
“I also know of a place that may due with a little fixing up. You probably even passed it on your way in. We can get it purchased for you before the end of the week. I’ll have my lawyer draw the contract.”
I’m in…tell the others to be ready. We’ll get you here in twos and threes. Send Brooke and Hudson first, then you and Duane next. Finally we’ll have Stanley bring over Daisy and Spencer.
|BtB: 01 – Ingratiate Yourself|