The moment the palace came into view, I was ashamed of myself for not being able to look away from it. I had never seen anything like it. It was beautiful. It looked like an old country mansion. It was placed high up on a hill, overlooking the busy town. The walls were stone, with white marble pillars that led to the entrance.
The prince leads me through large, double, french doors painted a deep red colour. There were paintings everywhere adorning the walls, especially paintings of flowers. None I can name, but nevertheless they were still painted beautifully. What looked like family portraits, are painted in oil and hung up on the walls in gold frames. I glance up at the roof and see more beautiful artwork. Never in my life had I been dumbstruck looking at paintings.
The first step I take inside, the palace echoes. Beneath me, the floors are marble, with each tile decorated differently than the others. The air was scented what smelt like fresh flowers. There is a double staircase, one on the left and one on the right. The railings are exquisitely engraved with flowers and vines. The railings are mahogany, tidily carved and polished.
Inside, there were no doors, only arches.
I ignore the stares and whispers as I follow the prince deeper into the palace. I wonder to myself where he is going, when he opens another double door leading into a drawing room with six male servants. Each one wore black house jackets, all neat and clean shaven, all with brushes, dusters and feather brooms, tidying in complete silence. They were all preferably the same, small size and almost looked the same. Once they acknowledged the prince, they bowed and continued on with their chores. Neither of them paid any attention to me.
‘You always knew how to make an entrance.’
I swing my head over to the entry to see a woman swaying her hips slowly towards me and the prince. My eyes widen in recognition as I recall seeing this woman at the auction. She’s the woman who claimed Noah. She was dressed elegantly, her raven black hair styled in a chignon, bringing out her stunning features. I could not move as I stared in fascination at this alluring creature before me.
If she is here alone, then where is Noah? Is he alright? I pray that he is unharmed and well, but I cannot help the panic from creeping in when I think of the horrible things she might’ve done to Noah. He could be lying in a ditch right now and nobody would know.
God bless his soul.
'Lilith, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?’ The prince asks dryly.
‘Do not sound so bitter about my sudden appearance, Alexander. You’ve always been pleased to see me and besides, I wanted to see you. It’s been a week since you last visited. I was starting to think you had forgotten me.’
‘What do you want, Lilith?’ The prince sighs and turns to face her, 'I can see the wonder in your eyes. Spit it out.’
She ignores his rudeness and grins, 'I couldn’t help but overhear that you attended the auction this morning. I was merely curious as to know the reason why.’
'I answer to you, do I?’
The woman ignores him, glares in my direction and clears her throat. Immediately, a young girl servant appears and bows before her, ‘Take this thing away and get her cleaned up. A dirty thing should not be brought into the palace looking like this.’
‘Yes, ma’am,’ says the servant.
‘Alexander, let us talk. Alone,’ the woman brushes passed me and heads into the drawing room, the prince following leisurely behind her. I couldn’t help but glare at their retreating forms disappearing from view. I cannot believe she had spoken about me like that. Who does she think she is?
‘Miss?’ The girl servant next to me smiles shyly and motions for me to follow me, ‘Come.’
I follow the servant up the staircase, where I notice a huge, shiny chandelier hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t help myself but gape at it as I continued up the stairs, rushing to catch up with the girl.
While walking along the corridors, I refused to look anywhere but in front of me, I’m afraid that if I keep looking at the decor, I’ll fall even more in love with this place.
Once, when I was young, I had always dreamt of being a princess who lived in a big, pink castle. Wore beautiful, dear dresses, attended many balls and fell in love with a prince, but now that I’m somewhat in a castle, with a prince I’m glad that the dream of me wanting to be a princess was just that. A dream.
This was just a nightmare.
I followed the servant into a large, lavish room and it takes my breath away. The king sized bed, although big did not even fill half of the room. I look up to see the ceiling decorated in complicated moulded design of roses, garlands and lozenges. All of the walls and the floor had a beautiful floral design. The armchairs were covered in chintz. Expensive looking artwork adorned the walls. Potted plants placed in every corner. A big, stone fireplace faced the bed, with two pictures placed on either side of it. There was a gargantuan window that overlooked the gardens where you could smell the flowers bloom.
I hated it. Hated all of it.
‘This is your room, miss.’
‘My room?’ I ask, my voice still trembling.
The girl nods, ‘Yes, the prince wishes to keep you close.’
I frown, 'For what reason?’
She looks at me with a frown, ‘Well, aren’t you a blood servant?’
I recoil from the word, ‘I am not overly fond of that term.’
The girl shrinks back, 'But it is what you are, miss. A blood slave.’
‘Slave?’ I blink at her in surprise, ‘Is that what they are calling me?’
The girl avoids eye contact and slowly nods, ‘Considering a vampire purchased you, you are a slave, miss.’
I clench my jaw, ‘Now, I truly feel dirty.’
She bows, ‘I am sorry if I have offended you, miss.’
I lower my head and scoff, ‘Don’t be. It is not your fault.’
‘Would it make you feel better if I called you by your name from now on, miss?’
‘Please,’ I look over at her and smile, ‘It is Jane. And please, do not bow. I am not royalty.’
The girl smiles and rushes over to a door, placed adjacent to the bed.
‘Where will the prince be resting?’ I ask as I run my hands over the pine furniture.
She comes out of the room with fresh towels and clean clothes, 'His highness’ room is just down the hall from yours.’
‘Lovely,’ I say, my voice filled with sarcasm.
The girl chuckles and hands me the towels and clothes, ‘You probably wish to freshen up before seeing the prince again, so I have run you a hot bath. Take all the time you need and when you are done, wait here until my return.’
She smiles sweetly and makes her way to the door.
She stops and turns around, ‘Before you ask, no. I am not a vampire.’
I’m taken aback by her words, ‘That’s not what I was going to ask you.’
I shake my head, ‘But since we’re on the topic, what are you really?’
‘I am a human, such as yourself.’
My eyes widen and lower my voice, ‘You are? But why have you chosen to serve the enemy?’
She shrugs, ‘Because I have no family. They died during the rebellion.’
My heart restricts at her words, ‘I’m very sorry to hear that.’
She smiles warmly, ‘Last year at the auction, I was chosen by the prince’s family and they took me in as their maid.’
‘How kind of them to take you in like that.’
She nods in agreement, ‘They have been very kind to me. They're really not that bad.'
I run my hands over the cotton towels, ‘What is your name?’
'Thank you, Isabella. For everything.’
‘You’re welcome. Enjoy your bath,’ she turns and quietly leaves my room.
Once the door is closed, I had not noticed the tears running down my cheeks. The last thing I wanted to do was cry in front of the vampires. I refuse to break in front of them, but keeping up a strong facade can only last so long. It angers me that I am crying. I knew all of this would happen one day, but I wished I had prepared myself more because this wasn’t what I imagined would happen to me.
I should be grateful for the prince for saving me from that ugly creature because I probably would have been dead by now, but he didn’t save me. Not really. I’m still trapped and still a blood servant.
I hastily wipe the tears away and head to the bathroom, quickly undressing to prepare myself for a much long needed soak in the big, hot tub.
I must have been in the tub for at least an hour. I could not recall the last time I had a warm bath, or even a bath for that matter. After lying in the tub for a long while, I scrubbed my body from head to toe. I had scrubbed so hard that my skin was red raw. Afterwards, I dressed in a plain, white dress that fell just above the knees, towel dried and brushed my hair, then sat on the end bed, waiting patiently for Isabella to return.
I do not know how long I waited for Isabella’s return, but I waited on that bed for awhile.
Where had she gone? Has she forgotten about me?
My knees wouldn’t stop bouncing, l’ve lost count to how many times I’ve walked around the room and I’ve chewed off most of my nails, waiting in anticipation for Isabella to return. I wasn’t the patient type, never have been.
After another five minutes, I shove myself off the bed and walk towards the door, look up and down the long corridor and quietly tip toe down the stairs. I do my best to remember my way down and when I’ve reached the ground floor, I know I’ve gone the right way. The vampires can probably hear me due to their heightened senses and they’re probably laughing at me but I could not care less. They are vile and cruel creatures who should be buried into the ground. Each and every one of them.
I look at the open double doors leading in to the palace and think to myself whether or not to escape. It is quiet and there is nobody around.
Maybe I should escape..?
Just as I make my way over to the open doors, preparing to make my escape, raised voices coming from one of the rooms halts my movements. I try to remember which room the prince and the woman disappeared into.
With a concentrated look on my face, I slowly and quietly make my way towards the door the voices are coming from. When I reach the correct door, I press my ear against it and immediately hear their voices.
‘Have you heard any word from him?’ Lilith asks.
‘If you’re asking about who I think you are then no, I haven’t,’ the prince replies, his voice filled with boredom.
Who are they talking about?
I do not know of whom they speak of, and I am curious to know. So, I continue on eavesdropping.
She sighs, ‘Where is he? Not hearing from him has me worried.’
Her voice is filled with worry. Who is this person to her? A friend? Brother? Lover? Who knows? But she seems to care deeply for him.
‘He’s a big boy, Lilith. He’s either fled the country or worse drowned his sorrows in pixie dust.’
Lilith clicks her tongue, ‘Alexander…’
‘What? He’s a pain in my backside. I do not know why we befriended him in the first place.’
Lilith chuckles, ‘You two are like brothers and besides, you’re both as bad as each other.’
The prince scoffs, 'Brothers? Not once have I ever considered him a brother after what he did.'
Sounds to me that the prince isn’t very fond of this person, but why? Had something drastic happen between them in the past?
‘We grew up together, Alexander….’
He cuts her off, ‘And? That does not make me like him nonetheless. He stole the love of my life from me and threw her away like nothing, and because of her broken heart, she ended her own life. We're not brothers. Far from it.'
'What he did was awful, but it's in the past, Alexander.'
'I do not care, he did something unforgivable.'
I hear Lilith scoff, ’Well, he won’t be overly fond of you either once he hears that you have a blood servant. You know how Phoenix feels about humans.’
Phoenix? That must be his name. It is beautiful.
‘And you’re going to tell him, are you?’
‘No matter where he is, he has probably found out by now. You know how fast words spread in this particular area.’
No doubt the whole town has heard about the auction and the prince’s appearance.
‘What I do in my own time shouldn’t be anyone’s business. Including yours or Phoenix’s.’
She gasps, 'But why have you brought a human into the palace?’
‘Are you alone? Is that it!?’
‘Stop,’ the prince orders.
‘Is my company not enough for you!?’
‘Lilith!’ The prince yells, his deep, baritone voice causes myself to jump.
There’s silence for a few seconds, then the sound of something like a window being shoved open. Or maybe I was imagining things. Maybe the vampires wanted some air but shoved the window a little too hard.
‘When will you two ever stop arguing and actually get on with one another? Or maybe this is foreplay for you two.’
My heart stops.
Who is that!?
I frown as I hear a third voice in the room. It was a male’s voice and it was soothing and sultry. His tone of voice embraced the air like the evening perfume of night flowers. His voice was beautiful and serene. I wanted to hear him speak more.
‘I’ve told you more than once to stop doing that,’ the prince spits, ‘I have lost count to how many times I’ve had those windows repaired.’
‘I wanted to surprise you both!’ The male says cheerfully.
‘Well, next time you choose to surprise us, use the doors and not my windows.’
He chuckles, 'And miss that look on your face? I don’t think so, Dracula.’
‘I’ve also told you to stop calling me that, TinkerBell. I don’t like it,’ the prince’s voice rises.
There’s a smirk in his voice, 'And yet I never listen to you, and never will.’
A chuckle is followed by what sounds a lot like someone getting shoved out of the way.
Lilith gasps, 'Out of the way! Where have you been!? You had me worried sick.’
‘I took a little vacation to catch some sun and to have a little time on my own, but then I missed my two closest friends and decided to come back,’ the male’s voice was filled with sarcasm.
‘You should have stayed where you were,’ the prince murmurs.
‘Alexander! He doesn’t mean that,’ Lilith reassures.
‘Yes, he does. The look on his face says enough.’
‘Well, I’m glad that you’re back and well,’ there’s a smile in her voice.
'It wasn’t like I had a choice. I would have stayed there longer but my courtesans were well and truly exhausted after I overused them.’
Lilith makes a sound of disgust, ‘You and your whoring ways. I know that we are close, but some things are meant to be kept private.’
‘I thought you wanted to know where I had been?’
'Yes, where you’ve been not what you’ve been doing!’
The prince sighs, ‘Look, this really isn’t a good time. You’ll have to come back later.’
A long pause.
Suddenly, the double doors burst open with such a force that I get thrown back a few metres behind me, and land on my back. I lift up my head to see the prince lounging on the sofa, one leg planted on the floor, Lilith was stood next to the huge fireplace, her arms crossed at her waist with a smirk on her face.
My jaw drops when my eyes fall on the other male. He was at least seven feet tall, slender and lithe. I could not see his face because I was too far away, but I can imagine that he’s very beautiful.
‘Is that what I think it is?’ The male points in my direction.
Why is he pointing at me? What have I done?
‘I told you now isn’t a good time.’
‘I do not care! What the hell is that thing doing in here?’ The male utters in disgust.
So, this was Phoenix? The creature that hated our kind?
I peer over at him and it all makes sense.
He’s a faerie.
‘Kill it before I break off its every limb with just the click of my fingers,’ he snarls.
And that is when I did the biggest mistake of my life.
'This thing you speak of has a name!’ I spluttered.