Beatris looked at herself in the mirror before she left her room. Her moss green gown hugged her bosom and brought out the green in her eyes. She had painted her lips deep red and she had put her hair up so it left her shoulders bare. A delicate pendant with a teardrop-shaped gemstone adorned her pale neck. She thought about throwing on a shawl to ward off the night's chill and settled for a soft, knitted shrug.
As she made her way down the stairs and to the exit of the building, the porter in his formal black uniform stopped her. "Miss, are you certain you want to go outside? It's dark and not safe for a lady such as yourself."
She shook her head at him with a smile. "Don't worry about me, sir."
"I worry about everyone, miss." He moved to the door and put his hand on the handle, but he seemed reluctant to open it for her. "Rumour has it that someone was attacked by a vampire over on Gordon Street last night."
Beatris paused to ask: "Are they alright?"
"Yes, miss. As far as I know they were taken to the hospital." The porter nodded and then added: "And people are advised to not go out after dark, just to be safe."
She smiled and inclined her head. "Thank you for your concern, sir. Now please open the door."
He pulled the door open and bowed. "Yes, miss. Good evening, miss."
The air was humid and still, with fog in the distance. The edge of her skirt trailed on the slick stone steps as she descended onto the pavement. Beatris pulled her shawl a little tighter around her shoulders, and the tips of her fingers brushed a faded, almost invisible bruise on her neck. She shivered.
A black taxicab rolled by and disappeared into the fog again, but otherwise the street was quiet. Her footsteps on the pavement sounded loud in comparison as she started to walk down the street towards the park. Across the street, a silhouette hurried in the opposite direction, but the fog blurred their features.
As she passed the kiosk on the corner of the park, a man was closing all the shutters. He tipped his hat and mumbled to her: "You better go home, miss." She smiled politely at him but paid no heed to his warning; she knew she had nothing to fear.
Her footsteps were even louder on the gravel path into the park. The fog rose from the grass and was even thicker above the pond. The tall lanterns that dotted the park had golden auras in the mist, but the most magical of all was the silence. Not even a single bird could be heard in the park, even the swans bobbed silently among the reeds.
Beatris stopped at an old pavilion on the edge of the pond and sighed, watching her breath fog up in front of her.
"So two people told you, and you ignored both of them..." A soft voice came from the pavilion, a woman leaned against one of the pillars at the top of the steps. She was wearing a dark pinstripe suit with trousers and a deep red tie. "It's not safe to go out alone. Vampires, they said." The woman grinned, showing her long, sharp canines.
Beatris blinked heavily, she felt confused all of a sudden. Something was not right. She hadn't noticed that anyone was there a moment before. "Were you following me?"
The woman smirked as she slowly descended the steps and came towards Beatris. "You don't need to ask me that. I know that the porter and the newspaper man told you to go back. I also know that you hesitated between deep red and dark brown when you were making yourself pretty. And that you selected this gown for a reason. Who did you make yourself pretty for?"
Beatris breathed in sharply. She couldn't stop staring at the woman's fierce eyes. And she realised now what was wrong: she didn't know why she got all dolled up and went outside. To her own surprise, her mouth opened and a breathy whisper came out. "For you, Milady."
The woman smiled smugly and reached out to touch Beatris' bare shoulder. She hadn't realised that she had let her shawl down to expose the skin of her neck and shoulders. A strange shiver ran over her skin when the woman touched the old bruise on her neck.
"What is that?" The woman asked in a low voice, smiling tenderly as she held Beatris' gaze.
She swallowed. Her mind was muddled. She had noticed the bruise before, and she had selected her gown because it left her neck bare, almost showing it off. But she didn't remember when or how she got it. And again, her mouth opened against her will and she replied in a breathy whisper: "That is the Mark, Milady. It means that I am Yours."
The woman nodded, still staring into Beatris' eyes. "That's right. You are my thrall." Her hand moved from Beatris' neck to the back of her head and she put her other arm around Beatris as well.
Her arms fell down to her sides, too heavy to lift up anymore. Beatris realised that she couldn't move, and it felt strange. Exhilarating, arousing, as if she wanted the woman to come even closer and take her. What did that even mean?
"They say someone was attacked by a vampire on Gordon Street." Beatris was surprised that she managed to say it out loud. That she was able to voice her worries. That she was still able to resist somehow.
For a moment, the woman closed her eyes and muttered: "Sometimes they get lonely and frustrated, and down right rude…" Then she shook her head and continued to gaze deep into Beatris' eyes, right down to her soul. Her voice dropped into a deeper, more sultry tone. "But that is of no concern to you."
Beatris started to sway ever so slightly. Her eyes opened wider and her mouth opened to whisper: "No concern…" She felt like the woman's piercing gaze held a dark power that made all of her thoughts disappear, and she could feel hot arousal spread through her body at the same time.
The woman grinned as if she knew what Beatris was feeling. "You are safe with me, my sweet thrall."
"Safe…" Beatris shuddered with pleasure, though it was unclear whether it was caused by the woman's hypnotic eyes and voice, or perhaps one of the words she said, or the tips of her fingers massaging the back of head.
The woman pulled her in for a kiss and Beatris' eyes rolled up in her head, showing the white of her eyes as her eyelids fluttered. The pleasure grew so intense that Beatris felt like she was going to faint. The only thing holding Beatris up now were her locked knees and the vampire's warm embrace.
"You give me so much, lovely girl." The vampire whispered, her lips brushing Beatris' ear now. "Your thoughts, your power, your sweet surrender." And she buried her face in Beatris' neck, drinking deep.