A/n: Hello readers, I'm finally back with another story! I actually wrote this one about a year ago, but I never thought to put it on the site until now. If everyone likes this chapter, then I'll post the rest of it. (In other words, that's my way of saying please review!) Anyway, hope you enjoy, it's one of my favorite stories I've written. Let the story begin!

P.S...Even though the story's relatively kid friendly for the first few chapters, I'm rating it T due to some slightly more mature content later on.

Chapter One

Rose, princess of Dulana and the only heir to her father's throne, was the most beautiful maiden in the land. She had long chestnut hair and astonishing gray eyes, but she was not without her "faults", as her mother so aptly put it. Stubborn, headstrong, and clever, she absolutely opposed the idea of an arranged marriage. That was what made it so hard for her parents to find her a suitable husband.

Rose smoothed the folds of her russet dress as she was about to enter the throne room one day, sighing as she did so. She knew that yet another suitor had arrived to ask for her hand; the trumpet fanfare could be heard clear across the city. Already formulating a plan to get rid of him, she pushed open the door and entered. When she reached the thrones, she curtsied, first to her parents, then to the newcomer. He looked about thirty, with curly jet-black hair and light blue eyes. "Good afternoon, princess," he greeted her, his voice as smooth as her velvet skirt.

"Good afternoon, sir," she answered politely. "Mother, Father? You called?"

"Yes," King Alistair replied in his familiar booming voice. "Rosamunde, this is Lord Ralph. He has asked for your hand in marriage, and I—we—have accepted."

The news hit Rose like a brick wall. "I'm going to marry him."

"Yes. We will work out the fine points later." The look on his face said that the discussion was closed, but she wouldn't take it.

"I only just met him a few moments ago! Why is it that I have no say in my own future?"

Lord Ralph suddenly cleared his throat, and they all looked at him. "I think I will step outside for a bit of fresh air. I will let you talk alone." He bowed slightly and left the room.

Alistair returned his eyes to his daughter. "You have no say in your future because it is also the future of our kingdom!" he thundered. "As for that, we have given you many a chance to choose a husband, and you have pushed them all away. This was the only way to save our family line."

"But I do not even love him!" she exclaimed.

"Dear, you will learn to love him," her mother interjected quietly. "And he, you. Please, just listen to your father, Rose. He is right: if you do not marry nobility then our family will fall into ruin."

"Now go apologize to Lord Ralph," the king commanded.

Rose, her will broken, nodded silently and left.

Outside, it was sunny and the air was perfumed with the scent of the flowers. Rose found Lord Ralph strolling near the heart of the garden. As she approached, he spotted her and turned, bowing. "Princess."

She curtsied. "I would like to apologize for any offense I may have made by my earlier outburst. I was only shocked that my parents had not consulted me."

"You are forgiven," Ralph replied. "I hesitate to say so, but I am almost glad that they did not ask you first. It would have given you a chance to push me away. I could not bear that."

Rose blinked, her pride wounded. "I am sorry."

"Don't be. We all have our flaws, no?" He plucked a rose from a nearby bush, presenting it to her. "As the saying goes, every rose has its thorn."

She took the flower uncertainly, carefully avoiding its sharp spikes. "Thank you."

Ralph bent over her hand, brushing his lips along the surface. "I must go. I will see you tomorrow." Then he straightened and walked briskly away. Rose watched him leave, slightly disconcerted, though she hadn't the slightest idea why.

As Rose slept that night, a dark form slipped through her open window, barely discernable in the gloom. It crept across the chamber, finally reaching her bedside. It watched her for a few minutes, then stooped over her bed for a moment before disappearing into the night. In the peaceful room, the princess turned over in her sleep, muttering. She soon sank back into sleep, and the castle was quiet once more.

The next morning, Princess Rose got out of bed very slowly. She was sore all over her neck and back, and she still felt tired from the wild dreams she had had the night before. Without moving to open the curtains, she trudged to the vanity and looked at her reflection.

A piercing scream escaped her lips. The creature in the mirror was not the same as the beautiful young princess that had looked into it the night before. This thing was barely recognizable. Its cheekbones stuck out prominently, the pale skin stretched taut over them. When she bared her teeth, long white fangs stood out from her blood-red lips. Wild black curls framed it all. Rose turned her head slowly, horrified at what she might find. It was there: two small holes in her neck, surrounded by a purplish bruise. The mark of a vampire.

She couldn't help it; she screamed again.

This time, the king ran in, followed by the queen and one or two soldiers. Lord Ralph trailed behind. They all stopped dead when they saw the shrieking form. The king grabbed an iron torch, brandishing it. "Be gone, evil demon! Return my daughter to her rightful place!"

"Stop!" Rose cried, stumbling backward. "Father, stop! It's me! I am your daughter!"

The king paused and looked into her gray eyes, which were the only recognizable part left of her. He turned pale. "Oh, dear Lord. It is you!"

The queen let out a moan of anguish, sinking to her knees. "Oh, God, my daughter! What will we do?"

Lord Ralph now stepped forward, coming closer to Rose than any of them had dared yet. "Your Highnesses, I feel pain in the utter depths of my heart at this sickening turn of events. However, I do have a suggestion. If I may say it. There must be a doctor in this kingdom who can cure an infection of this kind. Until that man is found, why not keep the princess confined? It would be safer for both herself and those surrounding her."

The queen raised her eyes. "You want to lock our daughter up like some lunatic?"

Lord Ralph gazed at her sympathetically. "It is the only way to ensure the safety of all those involved."

The king cast one more glance at his heartbroken daughter and sighed. "Very well. Take her to a cell on the top story. Make sure it is well protected." The soldiers moved apprehensively forward, taking up the princess's arms.

"No!" she cried, thrashing about. "Don't let them take me! Father, Mother, stop them! I'm begging you!"

King Alistair stared after his daughter sadly. "I'm sorry, Rosamunde."

A/n: How'd you like it? I'll post the next chapter sometime this week if I get any fans. Please review!