A sample chapter from something I’m working on… (Slight adult content, so stop reading now if you don’t like that kind of thing.)
Her life with Cordelia had been straightforward so far – straightforwardly bloody, the satisfaction of three different, ferocious appetites. Once upon a time, Eve had been meek and mild. Thin and apologetic, her speech was littered with modifiers and qualifiers.
“Do you think… I don’t mind if you’d rather… only if you feel that’s the best idea… well, it’s only a suggestion, I don’t know if I’m really qualified to comment…”
She’d loved those first few months of vampirism. It was all take, take, take. She grabbed people and sucked the life from them, she broke off great slabs of cake and stuffed them into a greedy, gaping mouth, she held the back of her lover’s head in her hands and shoved it between her legs.
Life was very good indeed.
Now? Now it seemed more complicated. Vampires that saw her as different and thus didn’t like her. The mysterious Firm hard on their heels. Some mysterious prophecy she could only guess at. No doubt, it would be your typical prophecy, predicting doom and gloom but worded in an ambiguous way so that believers couldn’t be too disappointed when it didn’t come true.
“I’m Mathilde,” the woman stepped out of the doorway. “Let me look at you, you magnificent creature.”
Aldric and Arnaud frowned at her enthusiasm, Eve noted. Mathilde was an age somewhere between the old man and the young one. She shared Arnaud’s dark hair and swarthy complexion, and his large, almost-black coloured eyes. She was very small, but then Eve remembered reading that the average height of people hundreds of years ago was much shorter than the average height now.
She got to her feet. Again, the clothes were another aspect of vampire life she loved. As a human, Eve stuck to the recommendations for a capsule wardrobe – crisp white shirts, tailored trouser suits, cashmere twin sets and that kind of thing.
Eve the vampire was much more theatrical. “Be a goth!” Cordelia said when they’d both gone shopping for her new, larger body. “You will look incredible!”
Today, she was wearing some of those purchases – a dark-purple velvet Gothic jacket with lace in-sleeves over a calf-length fishtail skirt in the same colour, laced up with ribbons at the back over her bottom, and suede skin-tight boots.
Mathilde made her twirl in a circle before her, touching her lightly. Light touch, nonetheless, she felt the strength and power in those finger tips. Proof once more of the strength vampires gained the longer they stayed alive.
“I love fashion!” She plucked at the in-sleeves and smiled at Eve. “…though this confuses me. It’s not modern, surely? I think you’re a very young vampire, aren’t you? Why are you wearing this old stuff?”
Cordelia sighed. “Mathilde. Nowadays, people like to ape the fashion of yesteryears. Eve is wearing steampunk Gothic. People love that look these days.”
Mathilde nodded slowly. “Good to know. I don’t like to make a fool of myself when I visit couturiers.”
Mathilde had been visiting couturiers for two centuries now. Aldric allowed it as being thin, pale-skinned and aloof, Mathilde didn’t stick out in the high fashion world. And she only bit designers who weren’t destined for greatness. They weren’t missed.
“I don’t believe that prophecy for a second,” Cordelia had risen from her chair
“Don’t you?” Mathilde turned to face her, her expression suddenly hostile. “You keep coming back to the west country, though don’t you? Interesting that this is the first time in years you’ve chosen to come and see us.”
Cordelia rolled her eyes.
“Two hundred and fifty years of kindness and hospitality!” Mathilde was on a roll. “You ungrateful little bitch.”
With a sudden movement, she flicked out a hand, the gesture enough to send Cordelia flying across the room.
Aldric gave a sigh, but didn’t recriminate her.
“Hey!” Sensing that this wasn’t a fight she would win, Eve backed off Mathilde and the instinct to thump her, hurrying instead to Cordelia’s side and helping her to her feet.
Cordelia grasped her hand. “No matter.” She waved aside Eve’s concern.
“Mathilde refers to something a woman once said before we killed her.”
Arnaud produced another bottle of the fine red wine they’d been drinking and topped up all the glasses. “Yes, I think she was the last victim we despatched together, wasn’t she Cordelia?”
For the first time, Eve began to feel jealous. Arnaud had kept his eyes on Cordelia almost all the time they’d been together in the room. At first, Cordelia had seemed to resolutely keep her gaze averted from his but Eve noticed that now she kept darting looks at him.
Vampire sexuality was fluid, Cordelia often told her. She’d never talked about vampire fidelity, though. The discomfort Eve felt was all too human, reminding Eve of her last boyfriend and the unease she’d experienced whenever he went on a night out with his friends. Carl loved women so much he couldn’t help himself. That was the excuse he gave Eve and expected her to sympathise.
Disturbed by her feelings, Eve concentrated on the present. “What did she say, this woman? That prophecy?”
“Oh, some nonsense –”
“Unlike horoscopes or the rubbish peddled by so-called mediums,” Mathilde broke in, “this lady was precise in her prediction. She gave a date when Cordelia and ‘all her kind’ would be wiped out and by whom.”
Mathilde moved forward so she was standing in front of Eve once more. She cradled Eve’s cheek in her palm. “That means you too, fatty.”
With that, Cordelia exploded. “Do not dare insult Eve!”
She vaulted in front of Eve, pushing her out of the way and grabbed Mathilde by the shoulders, shaking her so hard Eve could hear rattling. Maybe it was her brain. Maybe it was her teeth clashing against each other in her jaws.
Eve didn’t care. Watching someone punish another for insulting you insulated you from finer feelings that might object to physical harm.
Mathilde put up with Cordelia’s ministrations for a while, before growling – a long, deep noise that came from her throat and raised the hairs on the back of Eve’s neck. Aldric and Arnaud, she noticed, didn’t seem unduly bothered by the fight.
“Leave me alone,” Mathilde’s words hissed out, the French accent much stronger.
Aldric stood up, his hands held palms up. “Enough, Cordelia. We have established that my daughter and grandson have no manners.” He dismissed their glares with a wave of the hand. “They concentrate on the minutiae when we have bigger issues to discuss – do we not?”
Again, those hands went out to the side in supplication. Eve could not decide if she was terrified of him or if he was an ally. He turned his head slightly to smile at her and she started. Was mind-reading a trick of old vampires too? She concentrated on clearing her head.
Aldric had taken hold of Cordelia’s hand, taking it between his. Eve blinked. Depending on the light, those hands looked quite different. For a second, she’d been given an X-ray view, skeleton hands overlaid with what looked like lizard skin. Then, they changed instantly, back to ordinary, old man’s hands, large and pink-skinned.
The hands moved and he held up one finger in front of Cordelia’s face. “First, we discuss what you did to create dear lovely Eve, here.” He turned slightly and nodded at Eve, who suddenly found herself overcome with curiosity. She hadn’t questioned her vampire existence until this point and now there seemed to be a mystery, or at least something out of the ordinary about it.
“And then we talk about Gregor and the prophecy.”
He dropped Cordelia’s hands and looked hard at her.
“Do you agree, my dear?”
Gentle words aside, Eve recognised a command when she heard it. It was no surprise when Cordelia nodded her head.
“Eve, can you sit down?” she looked apologetic. “I need to explain something.”
©Emma Baird 2017