The wind blew through the open silk curtains, sending a wave of mysticism throughout the room. The wind had always seemed a character to Eryn. There were days when it rumpled her hair lightly and other days when it threatened to wipe her nose clean off her face. But on this night the cold air whipped softly through the window, and with it came the chill of a certain foreshadowing, a chill that made you know that something was about to happen.
This was six days before they took her. Six days before the climate changed.
When nothing seems to happen, days go by and you begin to wonder where time got its wings. Minutes turn into hours that turn into days, and suddenly you can't remember where all that time went. Strange, how you can easily forget what you ate for lunch yesterday, but your past, what happened before now, before yesterday, before last year, before you became who you are today…that's the stuff you can never forget.
Life was blending into one long stream, Eryn thought as she fluffed yet another pillow. She hated the job, but it was what she had to do if she wanted to go to college. Her job as a maid in the household was dirty, but the pay was excellent. Every day she entered the small living quarters dwarfed by the manor one house down. The adjacent castle was owned by the same people as this small, dark townhouse, but she had never entered the huge, cold gray stone building. Something about it made her shiver, and she hurried to clean the last room. She looked out the window as she pulled the bedspread up to the top of the bed. Leaves tremored, shivering slightly while some rust-colored ones spiraled to the ground. The clouds covered the sun and dimmed the light outside. An eerie, cold feeling swept over the scene as a rain began to drizzle down from the sky, spattering the window and dripping down in small crystal beads. Eryn mainly just wanted to go home.
Despite the house's spooky presence that made every day feel like Halloween, several excellent experiences had come from her employment at the Johnson manor. When she finished her job, just as the pink tinges of sunset were fading into twilight, she was greeted and paid once a week by a man about her age whom she had known as "Mr. Johnson". Every week Eryn couldn't help but stare at his silky dark brown hair that settled in waves and ended just above his shoulders or his sculpted chest. She could never quite look him in the eye, though. There was something about the sharp green color that she couldn't put her finger on.
Today was Friday, the most glorious day of the week if you didn't have an after-school job. Eryn finished her work and hurried down the grand staircase to the coat rack. Bundling up in her fleece, she stepped outside into the rain and hurried her way around the back, her shoes sloshing through the ground that was beginning to turn into a sort of thick stew. She set the key on top of the electrical box as she rounded the house, standing on the very tips of her toes to reach the top. She stood in the rain. Waiting.
Finally, about ten minutes later, Mr. Johnson's foreboding form could be seen heading through the torrents of rain. When he finally reached her, he rummaged around in his pockets for the familiar off-white envelope, lettered in red calligraphic script that read…
"Ms. Langley." A soft, baritone voice shocked Eryn back into reality.
Blushing and looking up, she quietly squeaked, "Yes?"
"As a member of our staff, my…father, Mr. Johnson Sr, wishes you to attend a dinner we are having next Friday." His penetrating eyes fixed upon Eryn's face, their unnaturally green color sparking. His eyes unnerved her each second they greeted her face.
"Ssure," she stammered. This was weird. Finally gathering the courage to look up again, she asked, "What time?"
"Seven o'clock sharp. Formal attire. We're inviting the rest of our wait staff and maids also," he said softly, yet with a very matter-of-fact edge to his words. "I hope you can be there." He smiled, turning on his heel and heading back through the rain toward the manor.
Vlad entered the manor, soaked with rain. It was the early morning for his kind and several were awake and roaming the halls looking for something to do. He hoped it hadn't been too weird for the girl-Eryn? Was that her name? Yes, Eryn, he decided. He hoped she hadn't been able to see through his carefully crafted guise. Setting his coat on the rosewood table by the door, he jogged up the stairs to Slade's room. He knocked thee times and prayed that Slade was awake. Finally, he was let in.
"Is she coming," Slade demanded. Vlad nodded. "Good. I've only got three more months and Isidrill is about to have my ass," he grumbled. A guilty feeling lodged itself into the pit of Vlad's stomach. What? He had never felt like this before. Guilt was a foreign emotion to him. Besides, he had lead many girls into this trap, so why should she be different?
She looked a lot like Selena.
Nevermind. He wasn't going to fall for this one. There would be no love. There would be no hurt. Just the easy, efficient job of being his Master's slave.
"You may leave now," Slade growled. Vlad stood, bowed ceremoniously, and left.
Friday came. Eryn flushed the last toilet in the last bathroom as she out the window toward the sky. The crimson sun was setting, nesting itself behind a wreath of trees, setting heavy anticipation in the bottom of Eryn's stomach. She shut the door, sighed, and unzipped the hanging clothes bag that she had brought. She hated dressing up, but she figured it would set her ahead with her boss. Releasing a groan fueled wholly by having to suffer through a dress all night, she slipped the deep purple silk dress over her head. It fell lightly over her body, and as Eryn looked in the mirror, she wondered why dressing up always entailed accentuating the parts of her body she was least comfortable with. She was pretty, but not perfect. She had always thought she was too short and that her chest held too much of her weight. She wasn't overbearing, but well endowed to the point where she felt awkward in her own skin. Releasing another pent-up sigh, she exited the bathroom and hesitantly started down the stairs, holding onto the rail for dear life in these death traps that society called "heels." The red sun was descending into the cool night as she exited the side house and made her way to the mansion. The sun's expression was thick with finality, but Eryn had a strange feeling that this was only the beginning.
Eryn awoke from her deep sleep to find herself laid out on an unmade bed, cold and alone. A long, white nightgown was draped gently around her body; her satin dress was laid out over a chair in the corner of the elaborately decorated bedroom. She did not recognize this room, and her memories of the party at the mansion were hazy. Why was she here? Why wasn't she home, cooking dinner for her brother and waiting for her mother to get off her shift at the hospital? Foggy memories of last night's dinner were trying to fight through the haze of her brain. There were other maids there, but there seemed something different about them. There had to be something strange about the way their perfect bodies fit into their elaborate gowns, the way their cold and vibrant eyes looked at the master…Vlad was his name. There had been something strange about him too, but she couldn't put a finger on it. The way he looked at her, with silent loathing and love…it was all so strange to her. Then there was a crash, and something cold came down upon her head, as blackness filled her eyes. She remembered no more. She had never felt so alone and confused in her life.
She lay there in this strange bed in this unknown place, staring at the wooden rafters of the ceiling. She heard the door crack open and sat up slowly, not sure what to make of the man who strode in casually and now stood before her. Her fuzzy memory became clearer and she recognized him as Vlad. Eryn's expression was blank with confusion.
"So, you're awake. I trust you've slept peacefully." He said smoothly, making his comment sound more like a statement than a question. Not knowing how to respond, she kept silent. Vlad showed no emotion, just continued on. "Uhh, we haven't had a proper introduction. I'm Vlad…I really don't want you to hate me. I know you probably do, but really, it's not my fault that you're here. Could you ever forgive me?" His eyes were deep holes of emotion. They were pleading with her to forgive him. Begging. But for what?
Eryn stared at him with blank eyes. "What do you mean?" she croaked, barely above a whisper.
He sighed, as if he were a doctor about to break bad news to his patient. The noise heightened Eryn's senses and tensed her muscles. "Well, Eryn, we have a problem. No, that's not the right approach." He stopped, apparently thinking hard. He started again. "Eryn, I know you're drawn to me. All last night you were thinking that there was something strange and appealing about me. Well, this is it. I'm a vampire, the master of this household is a vampire, you have been kidnapped by us, and you have to stay here."
Eryn's jaw dropped in shock. "I guess bluntly just wasn't the way to put it…" Vlad muttered under his breath. Suddenly Eryn's eyes burned with rage.
"What the hell do you want with me?!" she screeched, suddenly overcome by maniacal rage. "Why the hell am I here? This has to be a joke. You're not real."
Suddenly a mad cackling filled the room. It stopped as quickly as it had started. Eryn was on her feet, walking pointedly toward the door. Vlad blocked her, his eyes serious. "Look, Eryn. I'm really sorry about this, but I have to obey him. You have no choice but to stay here. If you leave here, he will kill you, and the last thing you want is for Slade to have to kill you, because I promise, it will be blindingly painful."
"I think I'll take my chances. I'm going home, and I'm not coming to work next Friday."
His temper seemed to rise, but he calmed down with a sigh that seemed to say, "I tried."