The vengeance of the vam.., p.1
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       The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride, p.1
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         Part #2 of Vampire Bride series by Rhiannon Frater  
The Vengeance of the Vampire Bride
Page 1

  Prologue

  Every night I dream of Vlad Dracula. As I slumber in darkness waiting for the night to come, he haunts me. I wish my dreams were filled with lovely memories of my deceased family or my beloved vampire lover, Ignatius. But, alas, my dreams are filled with Vlad’s green eyes, his long, dark auburn hair, and his passions.

  The dreams are so vivid; I am always convinced they are a terrible reality until I awaken. Only then do I remember he is trapped in his coffin, a mere husk of the robust man he once was, tucked away in his crypt beneath his crumbling castle. It was my hand that reduced him to such a state. I drove the stake through his body and drained him of blood. I have inherited his power. I have become the new Master, yet he still lives. He created me; therefore, he is intrinsically linked to me.

  Will he forever haunt my dreams?

  Chapter 1

  The Journal of Countess Dracula

  May 12, 1820

  The Golden Krone Hotel, Bistri?a

  I am so utterly lonely. It has only been a few days since I vanquished Vlad, but it feels as though I have been in exile forever. The joy of my victory over Vlad is still fresh, yet it is now tempered by my isolation. I miss my mortal family, now long dead and sealed in a chest awaiting proper burial. The owner of the hotel has been gracious enough to store it in his cellar, though he does not know its contents.

  I despair at the loss of my vampire sisters and their companionship, but recent events have destroyed our familial bonds. I am saddened that Cneajna, my vampire mother, now despises me. How can she blame me for Vlad’s actions? It was never my desire to be his favored Bride, or to be elevated above her. That Vlad should exalt me above the others still baffles me. Yet, this does not matter to Cneajna. Her anger burns against me and I am forlorn.

  Oh, dearest little diary, I miss my beloved Ignatius. If only I could be with him now, in his arms, at peace and comforted by his love. I know so little of him, yet I love him with all my heart.

  Soon I will travel to Buda. I shall find my own way in this new dark world. I am now Countess Dracula and I fully intend to use my new station to create the life I have always desired.

  For now, I am so utterly alone.

  Oh, how I wish I could cast off this growing malaise. . .

  The knock on the door startled me. I quickly closed my diary and hid it away under the pillows heaped on the bed. Smoothing my gown and tucking my red hair back from my face, I called out, “Yes?”

  “Countess Dracula, your presence is requested downstairs” came the voice of the hotel proprietor’s daughter. I recalled her name was Katya. She had been one of Vlad’s many willing blood mistresses.

  Her simple words struck deep like a silver dagger into my very soul. I could not fathom who would be calling. Only yesterday I had sent out letters to prepare my return to Buda. My hands trembled as my slowly beating heart seized within my bosom. Crossing the room, I pulled open the door.

  “Who is it, Katya?” I asked. “Who has come to call?”

  It could not be Vlad Dracula. I had drained him, taken his blood, and left him a mere husk in his coffin. Yet, I was seized in fear’s iron grip. What if he had risen? What vengeance would he lay upon me?

  The lovely young thing with golden hair lifted her eyebrows slightly as she dropped a small curtsey. She obviously had observed the note of fear in my voice. “Countess, it is a man sent by Lord Astir of Buda. ”

  My eyes narrowed at the name of the fallen angel. Though I was grateful that the fallen one had allowed me some measure of peace in his haven with Ignatius, I did not trust the foul beast. His prophetic words had brought ruin upon me and my vampire mother.

  “He just arrived and asked to see you immediately,” she continued.

  “Take me to him,” I said curtly as I stepped out into the hall. I drew the door closed behind me and waited for her to guide me to my unexpected guest.

  Katya hesitated, her delicate hand touching the lace of my sleeve. “Mistress, I miss his kisses. Could you not kiss me as he did?” Her fingers lightly fluttered over the faint scars on her throat left by the torrid, hungry bites of Vlad Dracula.

  The hunger had not fully risen within me since my departure from the castle, but I knew I would soon have to feed. I was annoyed by her request, yet she was willing and delicious. I had tasted her once before and her willingness to accommodate my need for blood would be convenient during my stay.

  Stepping close to her, I whispered, “Later. Come to me later. ”

  Her eyes fluttered in a light swoon as a languid smile spread onto her pink lips.

  “Now,” I said, my tone sharpening, “take me to my caller. ”

  Katya bowed her head slightly, then hurried down the hall. I followed, my hands twisting my hair up from my face and securing it in a loose knot. The red stone on my ring glittered as I smoothed the wrinkles from my pale blue dress. Vlad had placed the gold jeweled ring upon my hand to claim me as his Bride. I still wore it as a symbol of my new title and station in life. I am no fool. I know that doors will open to Countess Dracula of Wallachia that would remain closed to Lady Glynis Wright of England.

  Casting adoring, yet nervous glances over her shoulder, Katya guided me to a small parlor. It was the same one where I had first met Ignatius on my journey to Buda months before. He had kept his face shrouded in shadows during our short talk. It was not until much later that I had realized my brief conversation with the mysterious traveler was actually with the vampire that would so utterly steal my heart. As I stepped into the room, I felt a pang of loneliness so acute, it almost made me gasp.

  For a brief moment, I hoped the man standing near the fireplace with his back to me was my beloved. Sadly, I realized the dark hair falling around the man’s shoulders was far too curly and his stature was shorter than Ignatius’s.

  “Sir, this is Countess Dracula,” Katya said.

  The man turned swiftly and bowed deeply to me.

  “My dearest Countess,” he said in a voice that carried a thick accent though he spoke in Magyar.

  “You have me at a disadvantage, sir,” I responded.

  “I am Adem, the Captain of Lord Astir’s Black Guard. ” He remained bowed at the waist, his dark eyes gazing into mine.

  I gestured for him to rise and he quickly obeyed. I was struck by his savage handsomeness. His eyes were as black as night and his curly hair the color of dark, burnished wood. His nose was hooked and slightly crooked, as though it had been broken many times. Scars were slashed into both of his cheeks and across his bottom lip. He had the appearance of a warrior. I would have feared him if not for an unexpected gentleness in his manner and voice.

  “Katya, leave us,” I said to the young woman lingering at my side.

  With a secretive smile, she bowed her head, then hurried out, closing the door behind her.

  “Adem, this is unexpected. Do you bring news from Astir?”

  “Lord Astir sends news from Buda and requests that you listen to what I say and not do anything. . . ” he hesitated.

  “Yes?” I felt impatient and unsettled.

  “His exact words were ‘do not allow her to do anything hasty,’” Adem confessed.

  “I see. ” I arched my eyebrow. “What is his message?”

  Adem reached into his coat and withdrew a stack of letters. His garb was elegantly cut and resembled a uniform. I wondered briefly what the blue symbols on his sleeves represented. Taking the letters, I was first confused, then angered to see they were my own mailed correspondence.

  “These are my own letters!”

  “Lord Astir, wishes for you to understand that your pla
ns to return to Buda are not advisable at this time,” Adem said in his rich tones.

  “Why ever not?” My temper was rising as I clutched the letters to my breast.

  In silence, Adem handed another letter to me. It was fine parchment with a blue seal imprinted with the same symbols as Adem’s uniform. Impatience gripping me, I broke the seal and quickly unfurled the letter to read.

  Dearest Countess Dracula,

  It is my terrible duty to inform you that the vampire hunters are still afoot in the cities of Buda and Pesth. Several residences suspected of harboring the bloodthirsty undead were burnt to the ground last night.

  I strongly advise you remain in Bistri?a at this time. My guards and carriage will continue to be at your service and I have dispatched my most favored servant to be at your side. He is the Captain of my Black Guard. His name is Adem.

  As for your query into the whereabouts of our mysterious Father Ignatius, he left the city the night you departed with your dear husband. He has not been seen since.

  I hope this letter finds you in good spirits,

  Lovingly,

  Astir

  I crushed the letter in my hand and stomped my foot. “How dare he order me about!” Pain ripped through me at the thought of returning to Buda and not finding my love there. Tears in my eyes, I turned away from the messenger. My anger raged within me.

  “The hunters are on a rampage. Lord Astir relocated the entrance of the haven in order to protect it. He is not allowing vampires to enter until the threat has ended. The situation, my Countess, is quite dire. ”

  Flinging myself into a chair, I quickly sorted through the correspondence returned to me. They were all accounted for except the one I had sent to Astir. I had dispatched the letters with one of Astir’s guards just the night before. I could not fathom the magic that could transport mail so quickly to a far destination.

 
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