Prompt: New Year’s Eve
Title: A new yearning
Crossover: Twilight/Night Prince series
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters or situation belong to Stephenie Meyer or Jeaniene Frost
A/N: My fourth entry for the Better In Texas Winter Wonderland Contest
First place and "Please continue this story"
The fireplace was so big I could’ve walked around inside of it. I stared longingly into the darkness while rubbing my arms. Celebrating New Year’s Eve in a real castle in Italy had seemed like a fairytale when Edward had suggested it, if only it wasn’t so damn cold. But it wasn’t just that the temperature was below freezing that covered my skin in goosebumps and caused the fine hairs on my arms to stand on end. I didn’t need preternatural senses to feel both crimson and golden eyes following my every move. I hated being the center of attention even under normal circumstances. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being put on display, like an item you could choose on a menu.
The dress Alice had helped me into was a floor length, navy blue, strapless gown which was likely designed for people who didn’t need to breathe. The too tight bodice pushed up my modest chest and I was almost spilling out of the sweetheart neckline. My hair tumbled loosely down my back in chocolate brown waves, hiding the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra. As if everyone at the party didn’t already know.
“You dress as if you’re always making a first impression,” my sister-in-law-to-be lectured me every chance she got.
When Charlie passed away mere weeks before the wedding we decided to postpone. But after the funeral and the sale of the house I had expected everything to go back to normal, just in a smaller scale than was the original plan since I was still grieving. Then Edward gave me good news. Well, good to him anyway.
With a smug look on his face he informed me that after pleading my case to the Volturi, they had graciously allowed me to remain human a while longer, so there was no reason for us to rush into marriage. Their only stipulation had been that we make an appearance twice a year, and that they be present to witness my change. My insistence that I didn’t want to wait, that I wanted to get married as soon as possible, fell on deaf ears. The first year passed with one cancellation after another, and I began to worry that he cared more about thwarting the three kings than he did about me.
We fought, and I almost moved out. Edward begged me to stay, and I knew in my soul that I couldn’t live without him. I stayed and now we were set to wed in a week, on the very courtyard outside the window.
My teeth chattered and I wished for a pashmina to wrap around myself. Alice claimed it didn’t go with the dress, but I knew it had more to do with Carlisle’s latest theory. He believed that warmth enhanced the aroma of blood and thought it best to keep me half frozen at all times during our stay. I understood the need to take precaution, but if Edward worried about my safety then why did he leave me alone in a place where the guests wanted to eat me?
I jumped backwards when a fire blazed from the hearth and stumbled into a solid wall of muscles. The gentle fingers that cupped my elbow to steady me belonged to hands crisscrossed with scars. I gasped and spun around, and stared wide-eyed at the man in front of me.
Even though he wasn’t as pale as the Cullens I could tell from the energy surrounding him that he wasn’t human. It explained how he was able to sneak up on me. However, it didn’t explain how his skin could be soft or warm.
He appeared to be in his thirties, tall, at least six feet, with an angular face framed by long brown hair and a tight beard. A wide, pale forehead set off deep-set eyes, copper colored and ringed with emerald. Their intensity drew me in and captured me. When my gaze searched out his mouth, I couldn’t help thinking that his thin, shapely lips looked oddly inviting. I took a deep, steadying breath through my nose and unintentionally breathed him in. Cinnamon and smoke. It was intoxicating and went straight to my head, making me sway in my too-high heels. What is happening to me? “Oh,” I whispered.
“Are you alright?” His deep voice was slightly accented and I detected a hint of mirth, as if he already knew the answer to his question.
No, not even close. “Yes, thank you,” I tried to smile but couldn’t get my lips to cooperate. “I probably just forgot to eat.”
“Your fiancée should do better at seeing to your needs,” reaching out behind him his hand came back holding a crystal tumbler two thirds filled with amber liquid.
Mortification darkened my complexion. Of course he knew of my marital status, maybe he was invited to the wedding. I couldn’t believe it. I was engaged to be married and had been caught practically devouring a stranger with my eyes. I had never been so embarrassed in my life; He must think I’m a slut.
Thoughts of why worrying what Edward would think came second to the opinion of someone I had never met before were pushed to the back of my mind.
The day Edward asked me to marry him had been the happiest day of my life. The beautiful princess-cut diamond was set in a platinum band with scintillating brilliant smaller ones. Every time I looked at the ring it was as if I fell in love with him all over again. Suddenly it felt too heavy, and I wanted nothing else but to take it off my finger.
Shame, disguised as anger twisted my belly and I directed it at the stranger. “I can take care of myself,” I hissed through my teeth. I am capable of finding my own dinner, thank you very much.
His husky chuckle warmed me more than the flames that licked their way around the burning wood. “I don’t imagine anything they serve here is fit for your palate.”
I gave him a slack jawed stare. You can read my mind? But…that’s impossible.
“Not everything,” the stranger’s eyes danced with humor. “Just enough to make a few educated guesses.”
“Some guesses,” I muttered.
“I don’t understand how you keep yourself hidden from me,” he mused. “No human has ever been able to do that,” he eyed me with the same fascination people might look at a biology lab.
Great, another supernatural being that sees me as a science experiment. He frowned, but I was too upset to see it, “Who are you?” I demanded hoarsely. What are you?
A roguish smile spread across his lips. “You really don’t know?”
No, I wanted to scream. No one ever tells me anything! I didn’t answer, too embarrassed about what he would read from my mind.
“My name is Vlad.”
I laughed. The sound more hysterical than humorous. I should be relieved, and I was… So why was there also disappointment? The mysterious stranger was nothing more than a child with a predilection for the dramatics. What did he expect from this little game of his?? That I would be so excited to meet the famous Dracula that I'd hand over my panties and let him have his way with me?
Disgust twisted his features. “Do not call me by that ridiculous name.” He quirked an eyebrow, and gave me a lascivious grin, “But if you wanted to hand me your panties I’d gladly accept, although I think it would be more appropriate in a private setting, don’t you?”
His words sent a shiver down my spine, and I tried to convince myself it was from revulsion.
I had found out about if from Emmett. When vampire romance became popular, newborns started adopting names made famous by literature or television. “You could barely throw a boulder without hitting a Lestat, Damon, Louis, Barnabas, Elizabeth or Anna von Schlotterstein, and don’t get me started on names like Vlad and Dracula…” I never got to hear the rest, Edward admonished him for telling me horror stories and carried me to his room where he spent the rest of the night making me forget all about it.
An emerald glow lit up our little corner and I let out a small scream when I noticed it coming from his eyes. He flashed me a fanged grin and his hands started glowing before they burst into flames. The fire climbed up his arms but somehow it neither scorched his skin nor clothes. “My name is Vladislav Basarab Dracul, former voivode of Wallachia, but they used to call me Tepesh. The Impaler.” The fire went out as quickly as it had started, Vlad took a sip from his tumbler as if nothing happened. “Some still do.”
Either the guy was crazier than I thought or he really was the famous Dracula. I decided to run, but when I turned around he was already there.
“Don’t move,” his eyes flashed again and then, as an afterthought he reluctantly added, “Please.”
My breath caught and my heart was beating a mile a minute. I flinched from the pain of my fingernails digging into the palm of my hands, and tried to relax before I broke skin. Where was Edward and the rest of the family? Why didn’t they come to my rescue? Couldn’t they see how scared I was?
“You’re not afraid,” Vlad’s copper eyes bore into mine. “Although maybe you should be…just not of me.”
What did he mean by his cryptic warning? If not him, what else was there to fear?
“You’ll see,” he murmured to my unspoken question and finished the last of the bourbon in one gulp.
I glared at him, and was close to throwing a full-fledged tantrum when I noticed Vlad staring at something just over my shoulder. I turned around and came face to face with Edward.
Half of me wanted to run into his arms and beg him to take me as far away from there as he possibly could, and the other half wanted to back away and seek cover with Vlad.
Frozen in place I stared at my fiancée, but he ignored me in favor of the other man.
Edward nodded curtly, “Tepesh.”
Vlad placed the empty glass on the mantle and clasped his hands behind his back. “Cullen.”
“We were surprised to see you here,” it clearly wasn’t a happy surprise.
“When I heard the rumors that Aro’s most coveted toy had a human under his thrall…I just had to come and see for myself.” Thrall? I didn’t like the sound of that. “You understand, don’t you?” The pleasant tone from earlier was gone and I could hear the danger. I wondered if Edward did. Vlad might be warm and soft to the touch, like I was, but I had a feeling he could take almost anyone that came at him. Even without the little trick of his.
Their staring contest went on forever until Edward suddenly remembered that I was there. He turned to me, his eyes searching, “Bella?” his sweet breath wafted over my face.
“Y-yes…?” I stuttered. My head was spinning and I felt the chill once again seeping into my bones.
“Where have you been?” He smiled, but it looked twisted and wrong.
What was he talking about? “I-I’ve been here all night,” The cold made it hard to think, and I was starting to feel weak in the knees.
“Isabella has been kind enough to entertain me,” Vlad placed a hand at the small of my back, and I breathed out in relief when some of his warmth spread to me. “As a matter of fact, we were just about to come looking for you.”
We were? “Um…”
“I wanted to ask her to give me the grand tour. You don’t mind, do you?” he challenged.
“Of course not,” Edward forced a polite smile. “But are you sure you want Bella to show you around? She’ll probably just have you walking in circles.”
“It’s only been two, maybe three hundred years since my last visit,” he chuckled and I wondered if he could see my eyes widened through the back of my head. “If we get lost I’m sure I can find my way out.”
I was sure Edward wouldn’t let me go, but he nodded, kissed my cheek and told me to hurry back to him.
Placing my hand in the crook of his elbow Vlad lead me out of the room and down several long corridors, until we came to a small balcony. His eyes… I had never seen such intensity. Not even the first time I had looked into Edward’s, so dark and full of hatred. But whatever emotion Vlad’s held, hatred wasn’t it.
I shook my head. I was sick of immortal hypnosis. I wanted answers. What was he? A vampire? How come he could read my mind, even just a few words, when neither Edward nor Aro could. What was with the glowing eyes, and the fire… Could he be the real Dracula?
He sighed. “I will answer everything in due time, if you stop calling me that. Dracula is a fictional character and I am very much real.” He crushed his lips to mine in a searing kiss.
It was electricity, sparks, fireworks. Every cliché I’ve ever read about and I moaned with disappointment when he ended it.
“Don’t marry him,” Vlad whispered against my lips. “I’m not telling you to choose me, or anyone else. Just…don’t marry Cullen, Isabella. It won’t end well.”
“But I love him,” I whispered. I did, didn’t I? Right then I wasn’t so sure.
“No, Isabella, you don’t. He has… brainwashed you…They all have, and if you go through with that wedding you will die.”
My heart thumped, and for the first time that night I was truly afraid. “What do you mean? Edward would never hurt me!”
“I don’t have time to explain,” Vlad looked down the corridor we’d just come from. “But I’m asking you to trust me.”
Could I? I didn’t even think I could trust myself. “Why? What do you want from me?” I sounded as desperate as I felt.
“I came alone, I never expected the legends be true…” He shook his head. “There is a way to ensure your safety until I can take you with me.” He bit down on his wrist and held it to my mouth. “Drink!”
“What? No!” I stumbled back, disgusted.
He growled. “I don’t care if it makes you hate me, at least you’ll be alive” and pressed his wrist to my lips so I had no choice but to swallow the sharp, coppery tasting liquid that poured down my throat. I had been dizzy on and off all night, but that was nothing compared to drinking Vlad’s blood.
Images danced behind my closed lids. Suddenly visions of everything I had been made to forget popped into my head. My mind spun faster and faster, like I was stuck in a marry-go-round. I thought I was going to throw up. My lids fluttered and I felt warm arms catch me as I crumbled to the balcony floor.
I didn’t know how much time had passed when I woke up with my head in Edward’s hard lap. We were back in my room and Vlad was nowhere to be seen. “Love, are you okay?” Edward went through the motions of sounding and looking worried, but the seed of doubt had taken root.
A calm spread inside of me when I remembered Vlad’s whispered promise from just before I passed out. “I’ll come back for you, Isabella.”
Something in Edward’s face turned the doubt into fear. Please, hurry.
Full name and title, and appearance description is taken from the books by Jeaniene Frost