The streets at dusk were dimly lit as I walked, invisible to all those whom I wished wouldn't see me. To others, I allowed them feel my presence and see my figure or perhaps my shadow. The dark alleys were empty, making them all the more foreboding.
"Katherine?" a male voice whispered in shock.
I whipped around at the sound. My eyes met with crisp blue eyes, fair skin, and auburn hair. I started, backing up a bit. It couldn't be! But, yet it was!
"Where have you been all this time?" Justin asked, stepping closer to me.
"Around," I stammered out, searching for a means of escape.
"Why are you on this side of the town? I thought you lived in that mansion."
"Not anymore. I left."
"Bad relationship?" he said, his eyes lowering.
"You could say that," I said, reflecting on the manor which I had left Midnight.
"Oh." There was clear disappointment in his voice over the news. But, he straightened his back, squared his jaw and shoulders, and extended his arm out to me. "Accompany me to dinner, Miss Katherine?"
I glanced over my shoulder towards the shadows. How I longed to be enveloped by them, to be protected from recognition. "Ja," I uttered slowly and hesitantly. "I'd be honored to join you."
"Great!" he exclaimed, leading us in the opposite direction where the streets were brighter and the shadows scarcer. A carriage was awaiting us. Two white stallions pulled the carriage, looking proud and fine. Justin opened up the carriage door and helped me in. He walked briskly around to the other side and got in gracefully.
The stallions leapt forward, trotting gaily at a quick pace. Justin placed his arm around my shoulders and drew me closer to him. I leaned my head against his shoulder, closing my eyes for just a brief second. I felt trust towards this strange mortal. Trust in someone whom I barely knew! Why?
"When you left the ball," he said. "I looked everywhere for you. I almost had given up hope, but I found the man who brought you there. Phillip was his name, I believe. I wouldn't have known he was your coachman without that intriguing sketchbook he had in his jacket's pocket."
"Why do you find it so intriguing that he carried one?" I asked.
"They all were sketches of beautiful young women. That's all. Neither of scenic places nor monumental places."
"Is that so hard to believe? A young man sketching beautiful ladies?"
Justin chuckled, squeezing my shoulder. "No, not at all. It's just that on every sketch, there was an address written. I'm guessing it was where he took them, but I'm not entirely sure. Your sketch was the only one without an address on it."
"Yes. I mean, there was an address on it, but it wasn't the palace's address. It was your mansion. My, it looked absolutely astounding! I never would have guessed the likes of you would dwell in such a . . . building!"
I grinned. Yes, he would be frightened by the looks of that shadow-covered mansion. It was designed to keep the common mortal away. The aura thickly surrounding its gigantic perimeter was full of anguish, agony, and fear. All the emotions a sane mortal would avoid like a disease. But, Justin had been different. His horses had stayed longer. He had gazed in awe at the mansion, memorizing every structural shape and figure. He had gazed up to the window where Midnight and I had stood, watching his every move.
"Why didn't you call that night?" I asked, curiosity rising against my will.
"I wasn't aware that you were home, my dear," he said, smiling. "And the last thing I needed was to call and be greeted by some jealous lover of yours."
"Jealous lover!" I mimicked, laughing heartily. Oh, the thought of Midnight being a jealous lover! Oh, it was too good to withstand!
"Yes. I'd have hated to have to say that I had made your acquaintance at the ball, especially if he hadn't known you were out there in the first place!"
We both laughed heartily as the horses pulling our coach gaily trotted away from that deliciously foreboding alley toward downtown Hamburg. We conversed about many topics—politics, entertainment, news, the media—and we were finally to the fine restaurant Justin had suggested. He allowed the coachman to open his door, and he raced around the coach to do the same to me. He gripped my hand firmly as I stepped from the coach.
The restaurant's interior was extravagantly decorated in such a unique way it took my breath away. I hardly heard Justin as he spoke to the hostess and led me by the hand to our table in the far back corner. The aroma of the German dishes made my mouth water pleasantly as Justin opened his menu and skimmed through it. I, too, picked up my menu, already knowing that I wouldn't be eating. The food of mortals doesn't satisfy my hunger nor quench my thirst.
The waiter came all too speedily and asked Justin's preference. He ordered blutwurst and bier. When it came my turn, I flashed my violet eyes dangerously and smiled just enough to expose my sharp, animalistic canines. The waiter's eyes widened in fear, and I chuckled lightly to myself, relishing in the adrenaline that caused his heart to quicken and the blood to pump hard through his veins.
"I'll be having your steak. And make it as rare as it comes," I slurred dangerously. "And with that, I'll have your most expensive Rotwein; the whole bottle, mind you." I flashed my canines again, my violet eyes brightening. I could hear his heart pounding in his thick chest. I could almost feel his veins throb as his blood pumped quicker and quicker. Ah, fear, so beautiful. So enticing….so tempting. I could taste his blood now….thick ….dirty….raw…..
"Y-y-yes, of course. R-r-right away," the young waiter stammered, relieved in being able to run away to the kitchen. I smiled malevolently.
"I wonder what ever his problem was." I said sadistically, dulling my violet eyes and smiling innocently at Justin.
Justin smiled faintly. "It is because you are so beautiful, Fraulein Katherine."
"You flatter me, good sir."
"I speak the truth, Katherine."
The meal arrived within the hour. My steak was indeed raw and extremely bloody. I tenderly picked up my knife and fork and gingerly cut away a mouthful of the bloodied heap. I brought the meat to my lips and chewed thoroughly and savored the thin blood's flavor. It wasn't as delicious as the waiter's blood would have been, but it was blood altogether. I could bear eating the horrid beef for the sample of blood included.
I set down my utensils and took a sip of the fine red wine to the right of my plate. The flavor choked me and I longed to spit it out, but a concerned look from Justin forced me to smile sweetly and to swallow the vile beverage. I ate more of the steak in silence, bitterly longing for the waiter to come back with his thick blood rushing through his veins from the mere sight of my predator's eyes. Oh….I wanted him to come back….and he would come back because I demanded him to.
You will come back to me, my dear. You belong to me…you shall return to me at the dear inn of Thomas. You shall return to my embrace and meet your end. Your delicious blood shall flow out of your fragile jugular and shall quench my undying thirst. You no longer live a life freely, young mortal. Never shall you escape my clutches. You belong to me.
I whispered out my binding spell and smiled, turning my attention back to the conversation Justin had started on the opera. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the young waiter staring at me in wide-eyed fear. I smiled wider, knowing he knew of his fate. He would run, and I would relish the chase. He wouldn't escape. He could never escape me.
Run, little deer, I cooed. You can run forever during the day, but the night belongs to me. I will catch you when you are sleeping, innocent little deer. You can't escape from me. You are mine!
"Katherine?" Justin's voice ripped me away from my spell. "Katherine? Are you alright?"
I smile. "I'm quite well. I'm sorry to have worried you." I glance down to my imaginary watch. "It's getting late, dear Justin. I must return to my home."
"But of course! I'm sorry to have kept you so late." He put down his utensils and came around, pulling my chair from under me as I stood up. "Did you enjoy your meal?"
"Quite. It was most delicious," I nodded.
He led me out of the restaurant's door by the hand and took me back to his carriage drawn by his glorious stallions. It wasn't long until we returned to the alley whence we had met earlier that evening. He helped me out and left.
I glanced toward where Thomas' inn would be located. I thought of how he would be worried, wondering what had become of me. I turned away and continued walking down the angst alleyway, defying the signs of the approaching sun. A kilometer or two down, I followed a little girl to her dirty house and entered, wrapping the little girl in my arms. I promised her peace as I moved aside her satin hair and pierced her tender flesh with my elongated canines. I held her close even after her tiny heart stopped fluttering. She was an ample snack. I held her corpse next to me as I draped the dingy curtains over our forms and gave in to the morning's spell of dreams full of nightmares.