A/N: This chapter was fun to write because I got to introduce Dimitri a lot more - his personality has lots of surprises. I hope ya like it as much as I do! If you have any suggestions for this story I'd be glad to hear them. I'm twisting everything upside down when it comes to vampires. Thank y'all for the reviews!

Um...umm....if you want to beta this story lemme know!

Started: 1-6-10
Edited: 5-6-10

Blood Game

Your Majesty

I'd seen a psychiatrist for a couple of years at my parents' request. The woman had diagnosed me with an 'ill mind', and that was her way of putting it politely. I think the fact that I hadn't started asking to suck a person's blood was the only thing that kept me out of a mental asylum - barely, in any case.

Instead of prescribing me medication – which I know my parents wanted her to – she suggested I try and make friends. Now, I and a group of people don't work, especially when I dress up and hiss at them. The only friend I can recall having was Andy McClain. Nice boy – I actually liked him a lot until he committed suicide. I later found out why he took his life. A scrap of paper had been shoved in one of my school books.

Dear Rachel

If this letter finds you then you can assume that I am no longer in this world.

I know you're probably mad at me but I...I was scared.

You know how you go on about how vampires exist? They do!

Just last night I saw one...and...and...he threatened to dismember me. So I took it upon myself to end my life before he could.

Be careful, Rache.

Love Andy xoxo

I was bemused after I read the letter, a little frightened before I dismissed the matter entirely. Vampires didn't dismember people...that I knew of. That had been three years ago, and even though my friend died for fear that vampires existed, I still loved the creatures of the night. On Friday nights I used to sit before a small shrine I'd made in my cupboard composed of black candles, tea lights and packets of (unfortunately) fake blood. It had occurred to me to taste real blood so I did and...hated it.

Humans could dislike certain foods so couldn't it be true that some vampires – albeit very few - didn't enjoy the taste of blood? I doubted it but it made me feel better. I'd even gotten into the habit of turning myself nocturnal. It had taken a rather long time for my body to get used to it – had insomnia for awhile - but I managed. Going to mass on weekends and cringing at holy items pissed a fair few people off too. I really wasn't going to fake spontaneously lighting up in flames but I did run around the church screaming.

Naturally, the church goers and its priest didn't want to see me ever again. Not that I blamed them, of course. I did however offer a farewell present. Probably the worst thing I'd ever done that my parents had seen me do. I had a palm sized cross made of wood, and a lighter. Long story short, the cross got lit and hurled across the church.

My parents were not amused in the least. My punishment took awhile to come about, probably because I'd gotten over everything my parents threw at me. I must admit that they came up with a damn good one – cleaning the church. Although the occupants sent me verbally to hell, they agreed with my parents and I spent about three hours each day for two weeks in the holy building. Kind of pointless really. It didn't teach me anything, but it did manage to irritate me something awful.

School wasn't as important to me as it was to some. As long as I passed, I was just dandy. Holidays had come about very quickly so I only had to wait until they were over to go through my last year.

Until...I was kidnapped by vampires.

Queen? Queen! Vampire Queen?!

My eyes swivelled between the vampires, wide and shocked. Pretending to be a vampire was no longer possible for me at that point. Now that I knew they were vampires, I was frightened, amazed and in awe. Firstly, why me? And how am I fooling them? Can't they smell me? And then I remembered. People believe that vampires don't like garlic. Wrong. They love the stuff! They'd roll in it all day if they could. I'd rubbed garlic all over my clothes as a joke. Now it was paying off.

Dimitri was standing very close to me, staring down from his impressive height with a calculating expression. What was he calculating? Why my heart was beating? Why my eyes were wide and scared? I really hope not.

"Q-Queen? How can I be your Queen?" My voice was very small and quiet.

James answered me. "We have watched you for years. Only our Queen could have stepped into a church and not spontaneously light up."

My mouth fell open. I couldn't help it. It was just too shocking. I had my very own vampire stalkers! Part of me wanted to leap for joy and dance around. Some other part wanted to cackle with delirious laughter and the other...well, it wanted to run screaming.

"Why did you live with humans, Your Majesty?" One of the others asked me.

Good question. Pity I didn't have a good answer. "I was...um...learning to be...um...learning about humans instead of trying to eat them."

"I know what you mean. Teaching your heart to beat is such a tiring exercise." He nodded to himself and I almost...almost laughed at him.

How could I be fooling vampires? Ludicrous!

Dimitri moved even closer to me and I reacted on instinct, flinging my hands up to halt his process. My fingers landed on his chest and then jerked back like he'd burned me. He was warm. And his heart was beating as evenly as mine would if I were calm. Red eyes met my fake contacts and darkened.

"It is time for you to return home." He said softly, like a cool breeze rushing down my skin. Did vampires shiver? Now I wasn't sure. They'd thrown off everything I thought I had known about them.

"Home? Sure. I'll just be going-"

Just when I had turned to walk off in the direction to go home, his hand caught my elbow, swinging me around to face the other direction. I looked up at him, startled before composing my expression, and bared my teeth. "Hands off me."

A smirk was tugging at his lips as he let go of me, taking a step back, placed his hand across his chest and bowed from the waist to me, putting him on eye level. "Apologies, my lady."

Come on acting skills! Don't fail me now. Like a regal person would, I stood up to my full height and looked down my nose at him. "Don't forget your place." I really hoped he wasn't high up on the hierarchy structure. Even as a Queen I could regret that – especially as a fake Queen. "James."

The vampire snapped to attention, appearing by my side within an instant. My body tensed, ready to jump but I managed to control myself, grinding my teeth together. "Lead the way home." I paused for a moment, knowing that they could move from one place to another in an instant. "Leisurely, James. I want to savour this place before I leave."

James bowed to me in much the same fashion that Dimitri had. Before I knew it we were walking down the sidewalk in formation. Well, I thought it was formation. Dimitri walked beside me, another vampire walked on my other side, James in front and the other two behind us. Gathering my thoughts I thought about everything I had learned about vampires. They were sensitive to sunlight, weren't they? Maybe coy is the way to go.

"So," I said in the slyest voice I could muster. "Which of you can walk in the sunlight unhindered?"

James looked over his shoulder with a frown. "All of us can, Your Majesty. You should know that our kind is not affected by the sun."

I winced, controlled my expression and rolled my eyes. "I'm...talking about people. Have you mastered the ability to appear more human while in public?"

Understanding dawned in his eyes and my rising heart rate lowered to a more controlled level. "Not yet. We train every day. We've now gone to lengths of using Fae magic to conceal our skin and eyes. Did you hear of the alliance? Dimitri managed to form it a mere century ago – only by promising them land of their own where they would not be disturbed. Its cost us a fortune to maintain it, seeing as it's a nature reserve. The government wants to cut it down."

Shit, shit, shit. Politics? There were politics in fairytale land? I was so screwed.

"Why have you waited so long? Why didn't you collect me sooner?"

This was still confusing me. I was human. Was I supposed to be an ancient vampire that they had lost somehow?

"Our recent Monarch Queen Elizabetha died mere days ago through a well-planned assassination-"

"Assassination? How?" My tone was sharp and demanding. Point for me.

"Several of the vampire clans did not approve of the way she ruled us, so they staked her. But have no fear. That will not happen to you."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Dimitri will not allow it and nor will I. We are your personal bodyguards."

Personal bodyguards, eh? Didn't do too well on the other Queen but I kept that to myself.

James continued. "The Seer told us of the next Monarch and where we would find him or her. He mentioned that you wouldn't be what we expected. I still have no idea what he's talking about."

The fact that I was human might have been something to mention. We continued on in silence, the vampires matching my pace though none of them complained. I don't think they would have dared to do so. What was the punishment for disobedient vampires?

My escort stopped, no warning, just stopped directly in front of me. Being human, my reflexes were so not fast enough to stop myself from walking straight into James. It was like hitting a brick wall, and I would have fallen over if Dimitri hadn't put a steadying hand on my shoulder. I wasn't playing a very good vampire at all but they seemed too distracted.

A group of people, maybe six or seven were walking toward us from down the street, laughing and carrying on in loud voices. It was clear they were simple humans, and the vampires were watching them like a hawk watches a rabbit, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce.

"Permission to feed, Your Majesty?"

This came from all five of them, one after the other, looking away from their potential prey to look at me and stayed that way as they awaited my answer. All the years I had wanted to be a vampire, pretended to be one and now I was surrounded by five of them who claimed that I was to be their new Queen. The thought of being responsible for the death of innocent humans shattered some of the dreams I had for the undead.

But if I didn't want to become a meal too...then I had to make the decision. Taking in a deep breath, I nodded. "Permission granted."

As much as I didn't want to, I couldn't help but watch the vampires as they approached them, noting that Dimitri stayed by my side watching me. I'd always thought that vampires simply appeared and attacked their prey. But the four made no attempt to hide themselves or intimidate the humans. Was it because I was here and they wanted to impress me or was this simply the way they hunted?

Confused and trying desperately to ignore the weight of Dimitri's gaze, I focused on the vampires. They had stopped the group of humans who were still laughing, still unafraid. A few of the girls slid up to the four men, pressing their bodies against them. Unexpected jealously flowed up into me. These were my vampires. Mine! A hiss escaped my throat as I glared at them.

"No...no...they're mine. They cannot touch them." I growled to myself, making to walk toward them when Dimitri caught my arm, fingers sliding down to entwine our fingers together. It sent a thrill through me, the likes of which I had never felt before. It made my nerves tingle, and my body throbbed in response. A strangled gasp caught in my throat as I stared up at him.

Dimitri's nostrils flared and his eyes closed. My cheeks went up in flames when I realised he could smell, maybe even feel that I was aroused. I'd never been aroused before but I knew this feeling and...I loved it – loved it even more because he caused it. At least I was wearing make-up so he couldn't see.

"Yes...they're yours. Teach...them...Rachel." The way he purred my name sent a delicious shiver down my spine, and I knew he was Russian. I don't know how I ever thought he might have been German. I wasn't even going to bother asking how he knew my name. The 'Seer' must him told him. Reluctantly letting him go, I paced my way towards my vampires, curling my lip in disgust as the girls continued to fawn over them while the boys in their group talked amongst themselves, shooting irritated glances at the vampires.

I knew why the vampires hadn't attacked. They knew I was coming to them. I had seconds to coach myself that what I was about to do was all for show, all for this strange sense of the vampires being mine. My hands smoothed over their backs as if trying to fix invisible creases, running over their shoulders, touching their backsides. This way the easy part since the girls couldn't see what I was doing but judging by their satisfied murmurs, I was causing a reaction in my vampires.

James was the first I came face-to-face with and boy did his expression scare me. It was that grown-up look that I saw my father give my mother on certain...passionate occasions and seeing it fixed on me sort of made me falter before I gathered my courage and lightly shoved the girl who'd been standing before him out of my way. If she hadn't been drunk, my light push would have done nothing, but seeing as she was completely plastered, she fell over in her heels cursing me.

Once again my virgin hands traced James's body from his collar bone to his shoulders, down his arms and across his chest. A purr began building in my throat as I felt the muscles under the cloth flex at the touch of my fingers. I'd never imagined myself to be touching a man I hardly knew in such an intimate fashion but it sent such a thrill through me. My hands lightly touched his abdomen, knowing I was going into dangerous territory. Before I could even move my hands again, James's arm was cradling my back, forcing me to bend back at a forty-five degree angle as his other hand pushed my backside up, and forced me against him. My feet were no longer on the ground and my thighs were suddenly cradling his hips.

The moment he pushed me so that our bodies met in the most sinful way a moan of pleasure tore from my throat. Though I didn't get the spine tingling sensation I got something very similar to it. And then the screams started. Dimly out of the corner of my eye I could see the other three slaughtering the humans but I didn't care...couldn't care, not with James pressing me against him the way he did.

James growled above me, a deep sound that was immensely arousing. Pretending I was a vampire seemed critical at this point but my mind was too hazy to come up with a way to get out of the situation. Instead I caught sight of Dimitri whispering in James's ear. For a moment both vampires stared at each other before James lifted me up so that we were eye level. I couldn't help the moan that escaped me and he grinned in response before letting me slide down his body to stand on my feet, albeit unsteadily. Then he walked past, off to the carnage just steps behind me.

"What...why..." I faded off at the smile Dimitri gave me, filled with promise and dark desires.

"What you just did is a legend among our kind. You are connected to us in every way possible. When you fit into your role as Queen...you will have many, many suitors."

"So its legend that I can flick your switches through just one touch?" I said dryly.

Dimitri shook his head, the devilish smile still playing around his lips. "Some of us, yes, and a select few will be able to...flick your switch." For emphasis he trailed just his fingertip down my cheek, eliciting a gasp and a shiver.

I froze just as my eyes caught the white spot of make-up that had made it onto his fingertip. Without thought I darted forward and took his finger into my mouth, licking it clean of any sign of my fake skin colour. I released him immediately and caught the expression on his face. And I thought James had scared me. Dimitri's terrified me. It was so dark, so dangerous, so arousing, so sexy...

Chastity belt, here I come!

Wisely I turned my back on him, and immediately wished I hadn't. The humans...if they could even be called that anymore lay around me, twisted in unusual shapes and bleeding profusely. Bile rose in my throat at both the scent and smell and I swallowed it back down with a grimace. Throwing up was not a good idea in convincing them I was a vampire.

Instead I strode into the scattered bodies, avoiding the blood as much as I could but it seemed rather useless. James and the others, even Dimitri were bent over their choice of body, feeding from the neck just as I thought they would.

"Don't you boys feed from more intimate places?" I said in a bored tone, randomly studying my nails while my heart pounded like a drum.

"Your Majesty, you offend us." James said with mock severity. Though he had been feeding there was not a spot of blood on his face or mouth, or anywhere for that fact. "We're men, not boys. It's only during sex that we tend to feed from more intimate areas."

Right. Vampire 101 that I probably didn't need to know. Patiently, I waited for them to finish, expecting them to offer me one of the bleeding bodies. They didn't disappoint. Two of the vampires dragged the neatest-looking body toward me and with a shock I realised it was the female I had pushed. The problem wouldn't be drinking the blood. It was breaking the skin. Human teeth weren't sharp and with these fangs in my mouth it was going to be difficult - unless they were pointed enough...only one way to find out.

Squatting down beside the body, I gathered my dress and cloak on top of my thighs so that they wouldn't get soaked in blood. I lowered my face to her neck, eyeing the unblemished skin with distaste. My eyes shut of their own accord as I opened my mouth and bit down on her neck. It was harder than I thought it was. I bit down on her skin as hard as I dared and yelped as blood gushed into my mouth in short bursts. My stomach flipped and rolled as the warm liquid rushed down my throat. The smell and taste was making me dizzy. When I deemed I'd made myself enough of a vampire I moved away from the wound, wincing as I felt the blood roll down my chin and reluctantly wiped it on my sleeve.

My knees shook as I got to my feet but I managed to stand up straight enough. If I didn't sit down somewhere with clean air I knew I would be sick, either now or in the next few minutes. Did vampires get sick? Doubt it.

Quickly and quietly, my guards disposed of the bodies in the nearby bushes. It would be days before anyone found them – if they ever did though I'm pretty sure the smell of decaying flesh would attract a dog. Wrinkling my nose I tip-toed my way through the blood, blushing as the vampires took up their places around me.

We continued on again with a much different atmosphere. My cheeks were still blazing in embarrassment from what I'd done. My stomach was uncomfortable considering the amount of blood I consumed but every time Dimitri brushed against me my mind got distracted through the nerve-tingling contact.

I wrung my hands together nervously. I had to tell them. I had to say it for myself otherwise who knew what would happen. "I'm a virgin. So...everyone...stay away."

Surprisingly none of them stopped walking but all of them chuckled. I growled in my throat and it shut them up...except Dimitri.

"Your Majesty, we know that."

"How the hell do you know that?"

Did a Queen swear? Too bad if they don't because I damn well do!

"Your reaction when I touch you, when James touched you."

Don't blush. Don't blush. Don't blush.

I waited for my cheeks to go warm but thankfully they didn't. Breathing a quiet sigh of relief that I knew they could hear but didn't care either way, I ignored them throughout the rest of the walk. We soon left the familiar neighbourhood and entered into another one, more luxurious and expensive than mine. My sickness forgotten I increased my pace and so did the vampires. I would have to be blind not to see our destination.

It was a grand mansion that looked like it had come out of an old Dracula movie with wrought iron gates and trees that looked older than the building itself. The gates swung inward of their own accord. Creepy. We made our way up the cobblestone path and came to a halt at the front door. Like the gates, the front door opened inwards with barely a creak. Well-oiled hinges. What do you know?

Inside it was darkly furnished but well kept and there were vampires...everywhere. I was about to walk into the lair of my obsession and I was scared out of my mind. It had been easier to convince my guards but there were at least a hundred plus vampires that I could see in the large hallway alone. Who knew how many more there were. James stepped in first and I followed behind. My guards kept close to me. I found that reassuring strangely.

"Brothers and sisters, I apologise for the delay but we have found our Queen." Just seconds after the word left his mouth applause and whoops of joy just about shattered my hearing. Vampires could be happy and joyous? Wow. I needed a notebook to write all this stuff down. "I must ask you to maintain your distance for now. She is not yet of stable mine to accept suitor requests."

When did I ever have a stable mine? And why the hell do I want suitors?!

There was a bunch of collectable 'awws' and 'damn' before the vampires began to disperse. I didn't see where they went they just...disappeared. As soon as the last vampire was out of sight I was surprised to see that it was just me and Dimitri left standing in the hall. My eyes searched for James and the other guards but they were simply...gone.

"Come, Your Majesty." Dimitri offered his hand. I started at it a moment, admiring his sharp nails. Crap. The one thing I'd forgotten. Oh, well, if anyone asks I file them to look like a human. Slightly nervous that my nerves were going to go a-tingle, I took his hand slowly, cautiously. It was a dim reaction, something that I could ignore which suggested he was probably putting a little effort into it last time. Relaxing, I allowed him to lead me up the grand staircase, my gaze darting from right to left in wonderment.

I soon lost count of the amount of turns and stairs utterly certain that if I wanted to get out of here quickly, I was going to have to be very, very lucky. After what seemed like hours Dimitri steered me to a pair of wooden oak doors with inscription on both right down to the middle.

"Names," Dimitri explained, "of past Monarchs."

How many people had slept in this room exactly?

My worries disappeared just as quickly as they had come as we entered the room. It was designed to be dark and dreary – a perfect vampire theme with all the black, red and grey. There was even a scattering of white in some of the pillows on the four-poster bed but that was it. And gosh did the bed look inviting. Even I knew silk when I saw it. The urge to curl up on it was great and I made a few tottering steps toward it before I realised Dimitri was still in the room.

The vampire was smiling pleasantly at me which made me a little nervous. "You would like to sleep, yes?"

Even though I was nocturnal now, the past few hours had drained me of strength. I found that a little odd but payed it no mind as I nodded.

Dimitri pointed and I followed his hand to another door. "The bathroom is there. Fresh clothes will be on the bed once you have refreshed yourself, Your Majesty. I bid you a good night." And then a puff of smoke and he was gone. No, not really. He just disappeared into thin air like the rest of them did. I noticed a small table with a couple of chairs near the large bay windows that were currently covered by big black drapes. Wriggling out of my cloak, I threw it over a chair and staggered toward the bathroom.

It was the bigger than the one at home and far more luxurious. The hot tub looked incredibly inviting but I didn't want to wait to fill it. Eagerly I slid out of my dress and underwear and hopped into the shower, sighing as soon as the warm water hit my back. I took the fangs out and washed them as well as my mouth. The after taste of blood was not nice. It was while I was enjoying the warmth that I remembered my make-up, garlic and contacts.

"Shit!" I squeaked and faltered. It was too late to worry about the make-up. There might be something similar in the cupboard under the sink...I hoped. The contacts were an issue. If I left them in I had the chance of going blind or getting an infection. If I took them out I had the chance of meeting a rather painful death. Choices, choices. Sighing, I gingerly took them out and shoved them down the shower drain. Not the most ethical way to dispose of them but no one would find them that way. The garlic would be just as much of an issue as the contacts but I had no resolution for it.

In the morning, everything would hit me hard. I knew it and I wasn't entirely ready for it. With a light shudder, I turned off the taps and stepped out, wrapping myself in a fluffy black towel. True to his word, there was fresh underwear and nightwear waiting for me on the bed when I stepped into the room. Wondering how the hell he got my size, I slipped into the rather revealing underwear and the long dressing gown. Something tasteful. Lovely.

I put the towel on the rack in the bathroom and did a quick search of the cupboards. Aha! I seized a large disk of make-up and found that some of it was white. It would take awhile to apply but that was covered. Now did I wear my fangs to bed or not? Definitely not. I left them on the bathroom sink and dragged myself towards the bed where I simply fell into the mattress, moaning in contentment before I crawled under the covers and curled up on my side.

It doesn't usually take me long to sleep when I'm tired but it did now. At home there was always background noise of a cricket, the refrigerator or the air-conditioner. Now there was...nothing. Absolutely nothing and that scared me more than anything else had. Vampires really existed and I was in their lair, deep in their lair and I wasn't sure I would ever get out...alive.

I drew the covers over my head as my last source of protection against the silence and truth of the whole situation. It didn't help all that much. My breathing increased and with it, so did my heart rate until it thundered in my ears. My body was tensed, coiled, and ready to flee at a moment's notice. I needed to hear something before I went insane or died of a heart attack. I tried concentrating on the lingering smell of garlic on my skin and that didn't help either.

You're safe, I chanted over and over again in my mind. It wasn't even close to the truth.

"Your Majesty?"

The blood-curling scream echoed for only a couple of seconds before it was silenced by a hand covering my mouth. Though it was only touching my mouth through the sheet, I still tingled. I scrambled to tear the sheet away from my face and tried blindly to see in the dark. When I looked away from where I thought he was, I could dimly see a tall outline.

"Dimitri...you scared me." I was close to tears.

"Your Majesty, you must not scream like that here. You know it drives us in a hunt." His voice was soft but fierce.

"I-I'm sorry." I sobbed, feeling the tears begin to run down my cheeks. I was so afraid, so terrified that my body began to shake as more tears seeped from my eyes. Vampires didn't cry – I was almost sure they didn't but I guess that was part the reason I was crying - crying because I knew that I was going to die.

The dark around me was unsettling, especially now that a vampire wasn't too far away from me. Curling in on myself until my knees nearly touched my chin, I waited, sobbing softly. I whimpered as I felt the sheet slowly pulled off my body before warm hands touched me, everywhere that wasn't overly intimate and...calm. I began to feel calm. The tears abated but I trembled something chronic.

"Hush now, Rachel. You're safe. Hush."

Easy for him to say. Why wasn't he trying to kill me already? Did that mean that vampires could be as emotional as humans? That they could be terrified when in an unfamiliar place too? Definitely not. A weight settled on the bed behind me and I froze, ready to pounce off the bed the instant I knew I was going to be attacked. But...no. Dimitri cradled me against his body, spooning me, one arm resting around my waist and his free hand was stroking my hair.

"Sleep, Rachel."

And strangely enough, the warmth of his body and his voice made me do exactly that.

My eyes fluttered reflexively, thinking I had gone blind during the night. Panicking, I sat up in such a rush that my head spin and hurt. I smelt garlic and blood. And everything came back to me in a rush of blurred pictures and sounds. Drawing in breath like I'd run out of oxygen, I stared down at the vague outline of my knees, hands clenched against the silk. I was still here, which meant I wasn't dead.


He wasn't on the other side of the bed but it was rumpled. So he had definitely held me while I went to sleep. Closing my eyes, I shook my head as my cheeks warmed with the thought. Why did he do that? Guess the only way I would get my answer is to ask him. It was quite chilly in the room as I stood up. I clutched my gown against my body as though it would offer more warmth and stepped toward the bathroom.

When I looked into the large mirror, I was absolutely shocked. I looked human. I only ever look in a mirror to apply my white make-up, and I normally had my contacts in before I did that but seeing myself looking normal was a shock to the system. Shaking my head I went about applying the tedious make-up. Unfortunately the fangs had gone mouldy, probably because of the blood.

Don't panic...

Taking a deep breath, I willed myself to relax. Some of my guards didn't show their fangs when they spoke so I should be all right in that department. If it had anything to do with practice than concealing fangs for a Queen would be cake. I sniffed my skin. Still smelt like garlic and blood. Think I'll skip having a shower for awhile until I can find more garlic. Once my make-up was down past my neckline I tapped my fingers on the cabinet. What could I do about my eyes?

Deep in thought, I walked back into the bedroom to see that an overhead light had been turned on – a beautiful chandelier. Wow. It made the room seem less daunting but my heart still raced because I hadn't been the one to turn it on. A flicker of movement caught my eye and I saw Dimitri standing just next to my bed. If he hadn't moved I wouldn't have seen him. Not good.

"G-good morning," I said unsteadily, scolding myself. I needed to practice not to be surprised.

Dimitri offered me a jaw-dropping smile and bowed. "Good morning. I trust you slept well?"

Only because you helped...

"Um...yes, yes I did. And about that...why?"

"Why...what? Why did I sleep with you?" he purred.

Oh, now, that wasn't fair. That wasn't even close.

I snorted with an exaggerated roll of my eyes. "You know what I'm talking about."

His expression sobered. "I couldn't let you suffer so, your Majesty."

That made me pause for a moment. Vampires could care? Who would have figured? With a light smile that I hid from him, I look down at myself, both to think about what clothes I could use and to hide my eyes. What to do?

"What time is it?" I asked instead. The drapes were so dark that no light could creep in.

"Nine. There is much to do before you are introduced formally to all the vampires tonight; therefore we need the day to get you ready."

It was then that I noticed the dark circles under his eyes. Had he stayed up with me all night and not had any sleep at all? My body clock was confused so I neither felt tired or well-rested but I was pretty sure that vampires rested during the day. I immediately felt sorry for him. Maybe it was normal for him to see young ladies walking around in their nightwear, but I suddenly felt exposed and fetched my cloak from off the chair.

As I moved it to drape it over my shoulders, the smell of blood and...raw meat wafted around me. I grimaced and put it back down. Raw meat was not a nice smell especially when it was human. The thought of meat brought on the trail of steak and vegies, and lots of other goodies. Dismayed, I realised that I would have to find an alternative way of eating without people catching me. And water would be nice too.

"All right, but...are there any clothes I can wear? I don't want to be a bother but these are starting to stink."

Dimitri chuckled at me, appeared by my side and grasped my hand, staring down at me. I was seconds too slow but I was sure he'd caught sight of my eyes as I stared furiously down at my feet. A finger tilted my chin back up to meet his gaze. His expression was puzzled.


Gosh. Why didn't I think of that before? With a wink, I smiled, albeit nervously. "You got me. Pretty convincing?"

"Yes, very. But you should not wear them tonight." And then he led me over to another door I had failed to notice. Upon entry, I could do nothing but stare at the room. It was absolutely full of clothes, shoes and jewellery. Dimitri let me go as I staggered in absolute awe further into the room. I didn't even want to think of how much these had cost...or if someone had worn them before me.

"May I suggest this dress?" Dimitri had been fishing in the line of clothes further away from me while I had been dumbstruck. A gorgeous red dress with ruffles was flung up and presented before me. It looked like it had a corset and a lot of laces at the back to tie it up.

"Sure. I mean, yes that will do."

"Normally you will have maids to dress you. But seeing as you have yet to attend your coronation ceremony, I will have to help you."

God, why did everything he say have to make my mind go down the dirty track? He had a valid point. There was no way I'd ever be able to get into this dress without a little help. Dimitri let me step into the dress first and then I requested he turn around so that I could take my nightgown off. He did so. I froze. This dress would show off my arms and a little cleavage. I hadn't bothered to put that much make-up on.

Maybe he wouldn't notice. Heart leaping into my throat, I quickly took the gown off and scrambled into the dress with some difficulty, tripping over my feet. A growl tore past my teeth as I fought with the dress until strong hands gripped my waist and pulled the dress up easily. Trying not to think too much, I put my arms into the straps he held for me. His hands fixed my hair so that it hung over my left shoulder while he deftly managed the laces.

All the while I could feel my cheeks lighting up under the make-up. It took him only a minute to do the laces and I could hardly breathe afterward. He turned me around, shocking me with a satisfied smile.

"You look gorgeous...why are you wearing white make-up?"



"Most vampires would love to have a tan like that. Why hide it?"

Vampires could tan? What the...fuck! "Well, I thought it would...offend some."

Dimitri shook his head, amazed. "No." And before I could say anything else he towed me into the bathroom, grabbed a flannel and began gingerly wiping away the make-up. My parents had never been close to me, especially my mother. Never had she applied make-up for me or taken it off. But standing here with Dimitri wiping my face like I was incredibly breakable made my eyes smart. Luckily he was too devoted with getting the make-up off to notice. When he was done, he tossed the flannel into the hamper and took me back to the large wardrobe.

"Now. Pick some jewellery. You're the first woman I've ever met that hasn't had her ears pierced."

Woman? Well, that's the first time anyone has graced me with that title. It was usually girl, or kid. I was only sixteen after all. I said as much. The vampire laughed at me again.

"You look like a woman and you act like one. Why would you be anything else?"

Point to Mr Handsome.

With much enthusiasm I picked out a necklace made of gold with a blood red ruby, and a few less extravagant bracelets. Gathering my skirts, I followed Dimitri to the door and like I knew he would, he opened it for me. A typical ladies man. I wondered how many women he had been with and bared my teeth. My Dimitri...there was something seriously wrong with me today.

Dimitri gave me a tour of the entire mansion which took the better part of the day. He explained where the other vampire clans lived – in an expansion of tunnels beneath the mansion that led to other abodes. Of course, this was the main "house". There were three vampires clans. Although there was one main monarch to govern the clans, it focused on one in particular. The name changed every time a new monarch took the throne. Decapitation was the one they currently used, making me shudder. It was definitely getting changed. Impaler and Stalkers were the other two clans, ruled by sub leaders who would report to me at regular intervals.

Decapitation had one thousand vampires while Impaler and Stalkers both had five hundred. I was told that this made it fair on disagreements. I thought that was a load. But a thousand vampires under my rule! My palms tingled with excitement, my previous night becoming less and less important the more I learned about my creatures of the night.

"When you are ready for Court-" Court was the playground for politics. I was judge and executioner. The jury were the vampires under my rule. Fun, fun. "-you will be expected to make decisions for all the clans, including handling minor situations like family feuds and trespassers."


"Humans that enter this mansion or the others, as well as the boundaries. You will decide how they are punished. There are a few in the dungeons and will no doubt undergo your judgement as soon as the ceremony is finished."

A lump formed in my throat. I was going to have to decide how to punishment my own kind?

I was beginning not to like my role as their Queen.

A/N: Ah, that was fun. I'll start writing the next chapter shortly. James will be appearing more frequently too.