Chapter 1The picture is of the father, Sebastian
The air was cool and calm, and the sounds of the forest outside were unusually quiet. The young man, barely in his late thirties, veered off the street bustling with cars packed in like sardines and turned down a narrow, almost lonely dirt road poking out from behind a few maples. His teenage daughter gazed at him with inquisitive eyes from the passenger seat. "Dad, where are we going?"
He grinned at her and said boisterously, "We're going on an adventure. Off the beaten path, in the wild of the unknown!"
She rolled her eyes. "Really, Dad? We're driving down a logging trail in the middle of nowhere. We couldn't possibly be going anywhere that exciting."
He raised an eyebrow in her direction and retorted, "What ever happened to your sense of adventure? You used to be —"
"I used to be a kid. I've grown up. Deal with it."
He wiggled his eyebrows, making a face. She suppressed a laugh, instead focusing her attention on her iphone or, once the battery had depleted, looking out the window. The sky grew pink, and the father kept going, now on the lookout for moose. When it became too dark to see clearly, he switched on his headlights. But even with the lights on, he could barely differentiate between the road he was traveling on and the trees to either side. Unfortunately, by this point the road was too narrow for him to turn around, and with all the twists and turns it had made, he didn't dare risk backing out. So, with a sigh, he looked once to his daughter softly snoring in the seat beside him, and cautiously proceeded down the road at half his previous pace.
It must have been nearing half an hour before he came across any sign of civilization. Hidden in the trees to either side of the dirt road loomed two great stone pillars, a grotesque stone creature perched atop each. As the young man passed them at two miles per hour, he noticed that the stone did not stop there; in fact, it rose even farther, forming two halves of one gigantic gothic gate.
Instantly, the dirt road turned to gravel, and the trees began to thin. It wasn't long before a building materialized out of the darkness. As he drove closer, he could tell that it was an old, grandiose victorian mansion. The gravel road became a driveway under his tires, and in what seemed like no time at all, he was parked in front of what seemed to have once been a stable but in recent times had been converted into a large four car garage.
In the dim light he could make out little more than silhouettes, so after a minute or so he prepared to turn around. But as soon as he put the car in reverse, a loud rumbling sound, followed by a great clang, erupted from behind him. The stone gate had closed, trapping him and his daughter inside.
He thought of waking her, but didn't want to disturb the peaceful look on her face. So with a sigh, he turned the car off, removed the keys from the ignition, and stepped out into the brisk night air of northern Maine. Even in the height of June the nights were chilled, though with every step he took toward the lifeless mansion, he could swear the temperature dropped by at least a degree.
Slowly and cautiously, the young man ascended the solid wooden front steps and approached the dark stone door that loomed before him. A large knocker in the shape of a gargoyle's head protruded from the center of the door, and he reached up to grasp it. The stone was cool to his touch, the knocker heavy. When he let it go, the sheer weight of it was enough to open the door without a sound.
His heartbeat quickened as he stepped inside. He was surrounded by pure darkness, and from what little he could make of his surroundings, he thought himself to be in a hallway of sorts. But it was unlike any other hallway he'd ever been in. As he looked around, the young man was filled with a deep sense of foreboding, as though he were being watched. "Hello? Anyone there?" He called, his voice tentative. No one answered.
He felt his way along the wall to his right, bumping his shins on various pieces of furniture before finally coming across a small archway. Once through, he found that he could see better; there was a large window straight ahead of him through which faint rays of moonlight streamed in.
He could just make out a writing desk to the right of the window, and he fumbled his way toward it in the dark. Once beside the desk, he could see an ancient-looking typewriter sitting atop it, black against the silvery grey. He reached his hand out to get a better feel for the antique typewriter, but before he had a chance to touch its glossy surface, a resounding bang echoed through the silent mansion.
He jumped more than a few inches. Eyes glued on the empty archway, he took a few cautious steps toward the front door. His heart beat a little faster with every step he took, but after thirty seconds or so, he began to calm down a little and took one last look at the writing desk behind him. When his eyes found the archway again, it was no longer empty.
A figure surrounded in a cloak of darkness stood in the center of the archway. Her face was as pale as paper, her lips as red as rubies. Her eyes, black as night, bore into his soul. He dared not move nor speak, and she observed him curiously for a minute or so before taking a few casual steps forward. As she came into the moonlight, the skin of her lips stretched across her teeth, revealing nearly inch long fangs. He stumbled backward a few paces. "You're a ... vampire."
The vampiress laughed softly. "Yes, little human. I am a vampire." Her smile widened upon seeing the look of pure terror on his face.
He scrambled backwards, tripping over some piece of furniture and landing on the ground. "W-what will you do to me?"
She was by his side in an instant. "I don't know, little one," she whispered in his ear. "You're too ..." she paused to caress his cheek, which he pulled away from indignantly, "pretty to kill." Smiling wide, an animalistic fire filled her eyes, and she snarled, "But I haven't had fresh blood in over a century."
Stumbling backwards, he tried to get away, but his back hit the wall. She knelt before him, baring her fangs. Eyes tightly shut, he whispered, "P-please don't kill me."
Her eyes glittered, and she placed a finger against his lips. "Shhh."
Her lips grazed his neck and he whispered, "P-please. I know the law, but I'd rather be imprisoned than killed." She recoiled, as if struck, and lifted her lips from his delectable-looking neck. He opened his eyes, looking into hers, which were wide with shock. "Please, if not for me, then for my daughter. I don't want her to be an orphan."
She blinked repeatedly, and her expression softened. "You have a daughter?" Her voice was curious, and didn't hold as much malice as it had a second ago.
He hesitated before saying softly, "Her name is Scarlett."
They were both silent for a minute or so, and she pulled away so that they were sitting a few feet apart. "You mentioned earlier that if you died then your daughter would be an orphan. If it's not too much to ask, what happened to your wife?"
His expression took on a certain melancholy aftertone, and he said, "She passed when Scarlett was very young, from a sickness that had plagued her for most of her life."
She said, "I am truly sorry for your loss," seeming genuine. Turning away from him, she looked off into the distance. "My mother died when I was young as well. It's not something you ever quite get over."
Again, there was silence for a time, until the young man gathered enough courage to say, "What happened to her?" SHe turned and looked at him, and he quickly added, "I-if I may ask."
She smiled sadly, showing no teeth. "It is alright. There is no harm in asking questions. She died of what you now call cancer."
His eyebrows furrowed, and he said, "I thought vampires couldn't get cancer."
She shook her head slightly. "No, vampire can't. She was human, like you."
"Then you weren't —"
"Born a vampire? No. I was turned when I was barely out of my teenage years, just after my mother's death." She gazed at his face, studying it. A short silence ensued, and then she offered him her hand. "Come. I must show you to your rooms before I change my mind about killing you."
His eyes went wide, and he said, "But ... but what about my daughter? I won't just leave her."
"Your daughter is here with you? Is she nearby?"
"Well ... she's sleeping out in my car at the moment." He paused. "Why?"
Her eyes gleamed with excitement and maybe something more. "No reason. I just thought she'd rather sleep on a bed than in an uncomfortable car, but that might just be me."
He reached for her hand, but then recoiled as if thinking better of it. He eyed her cautiously. "What are you going to do with her?" With a voice of steel, he added, "I won't let you harm her."
She chuckled softly. "Hon, you don't have any choice in the matter. But don't you worry, alright? I won't harm her, of that you can be certain." She smiled, not showing her teeth, and he cautiously took her outstretched hand. She pulled him to his feet, and he stood awkwardly before her, grasping his elbow for reassurance. "What are you called, human?" She asked, cocking her head slightly.
"My name is Sebastian Evans."
"And mine's Nissa." She smiled, then nodded once, as if that was settled, before proceeding to walk toward the front door, expecting him to follow her. He did, and they walked into the cool night air. They were almost to the car when he stopped. She didn't notice for a second or two, but then stopped and turned around. "What is it?"
"It's just ..." He paused, unsure. "I know you said you wouldn't harm her, but ..."
"I understand. You don't trust my word." Nissa's eyes glittered with malice and she added, "That's wise of you." With inhuman speed, she ran to the car. Smiling a wide and toothy smile at Sebastian, she placed her hand on the driver's side door. His eyes pleaded with her, but she ignored him.
All at once, she applied force to the car, shaking it vigorously. The teenager inside woke with a start, and her father ran foolishly toward Nissa. "Stop! What are you doing?"
She grasped him by the arm, pulling him tightly against her. "Making sure I have an audience." She looked to his daughter, who had her hand over her mouth in silent agony. She held him fast to her, and slowly but purposefully leaned toward his neck.
His pupils shook, and he whimpered softly, "P-please, not in front of my daughter."
Nissa whispered, her mouth moving against his neck, "But therein lies the point, little one. She'll come to her father, and then I'll have you both." Her teeth extended, and with ease they broke the skin on his neck. It felt odd at first, as though he were in a pleasant dream. But then, the fangs began to burn. Hotter and hotter they became, and a pain seared through him. He began to scream as she drank, and it drove her into a kind of euphoria. The fresh, warm blood against her lips, coupled with his delectable screams, fed her sadistic nature. She sighed from sheer pleasure. But after a minute or so, she could feel his life force beginning to ebb away, and his screams became less pronounced. It took almost all the willpower she had to pull away. When she did, Sebastian fell to the ground, the blood loss causing his legs to give out from under him.
As Nissa predicted, upon seeing her father collapse, Scarlett raced from the car to his side. "Dad! Dad, wake up! Please!"
She sobbed loudly, and Nissa reassured her. "He is only passed out, young one. He will be fine in an hour or two."
The young girl whipped around to face her. "What did you do to him, you vampiric bitch?"
Nissa smiled widely, her fangs dripping with blood. "You saw for yourself, didn't you?"
Scarlett's eyes widened. "Oh damn. You really are a vampire."
"That's right, little human." She took a step toward the young woman, who bravely stayed by her father's side. "You are both mine now. There is no escape. Come."
"Like hell I'm yours! No way am I leaving him."
Nissa sighed. "Fine. Have it your way then." In a flash, she had taken Sebastian into her arms and was walking toward the mansion when she stopped. "Are you coming? Or shall you leave him to face me alone?"
"No. I'm ... I'm coming." Nissa nodded and continued walking toward the mansion. Scarlett had to run to keep pace with her, and before long the two were stepping through the front door and into the darkness. The vampiress had no trouble seeing, but for Scarlett's benefit, she flipped a grand-looking switch on the wall. Hundreds of lights around the mansion flickered to life, illuminating what had to have been the most spectacular furniture and architecture Scarlett had ever seen. But she had neither the time nor the willingness to marvel at it.
They took turn after turn, until Nissa stopped in front of an elegant deep cedar door with a golden handle. "You will stay in here for the time being. I would put you in separate rooms, but I think I'm correct in assuming that you'd rather not leave your father?" She turned to Scarlett, who nodded. "Good. Then follow me." She led the way into the room, and the young girl followed close behind. The room had a similar style to the rest of the house, and had to have been built at least a hundred years ago, if not more. There were two king-sized four poster beds, a small kitchen, and a wooden door in each of the far corners. It would have given an appearance of elegance had it not been for the iron bars splitting the room in two. "Through the door to the right there lies a modest bathroom, and behind the door to the left you'll find a small gameroom. You'll live here for now. I'll lock you in during the day, and you'll be let out at night."
"You'll lock us in during the day?"
"Yes. That is when I'll expect you to sleep."
"Seriously?" Scarlett said incredulously. "You may be nocturnal, but I'm not! I happen to like the sun, thank you very much."
Nissa's eyes narrowed. "You will sleep when I tell you to sleep, or not be let out at all." Chuckling softly, she added, "For future reference, I'm not nocturnal either. And I haven't slept in nearly six hundred years."
Scarlett's eyes went wide. "Six hundred years?"
The vampiress smirked. "Yes." With that, Nissa shoved the young human into the cell and walked in behind her. She gently placed Sebastian on one of the beds and turned to leave. "I will see you tomorrow. Until then, I'll try to procure some food for you two. Alert me when he wakes by ringing this bell." She pointed to a medium-sized brass bell hanging from a string near the door to the cell. On her way out the door, she paused, and said in a low and cold voice, "And be forewarned. Any attempt to escape will be met with fierce consequences."