Chapter 1


He didn't know why he kept her alive.

It would be so easy to kill her. So easy to continue drinking, so easy to drain her completely and leave her lifeless and pale. She would be simply another woman he had killed, and she would join the long path of ghosts lining the garden walk like fallen leaves. He would forget her name, forget her features, forget everything except the unique taste her blood held. She would be buried in the garden with the others, and if -for some reason- he found it pleasing to remember her specifically, he would sit on the bench and wait for her to appear in the darkness. She would be like all the others before her.

That, he supposed, was why he kept her alive. Margaret was not like the others, could never be.

The sun was nearly set; he braced himself and stepped out into the dying light of the sunset. It was mildly painful, the way a healing wound itched and annoyed the living, but he was strong. It was no more than a minor irritation, these weak rays of light that would have killed a lesser vampire.

For that was what he was, after all. Vampire. He touched the pointed canines of his upper teeth with his tongue, just to remind himself of what he was. Three hundred years and he still had to remind himself of what he was. He wondered if he would ever grow used to it.

He looked at the sun and bared his teeth. Eventually, yes, he would be completely comfortable with his existence. Eventually Margaret would grow comfortable with what he was, too . . . He frowned. Why did he want Margaret to be comfortable so badly?

She stepped into the garden, graceful and silent in the twilight. Sometimes she unnerved him with her silence: she had always stepped quietly, always moved so that her skirts barely whispered in passing, but since he had stolen her away from her home and taken her here, she had grown even quieter, as if she were anticipating the day she would join the ghosts and be forever regulated to silence.

Margaret moved through the garden, still silent, walking past the ghosts of the other women he had killed. They parted for her as she walked, curtsying to their master's current woman, silent gowns sweeping out behind some, ragged hemlines inches from the ground on others. He had never been picky about his women, as some of his siblings had been. Rich or poor- as long as they had blood flowing through their veins, they were fair game.

He stood in the dying sun and watched Margaret pass through the ghosts. With a touch of alarm he noticed that she was beginning to resemble some of the later ghosts more and more- her eyes were beginning to sink into her face, and they were ringed in black. The scar high on her right cheek was fading, no longer bright red. He could barely discern it from his high vantage point- when he had first brought her here, when he had first looked down on it, the scar had blazed scarlet and dominated her face. Now it was a thin red line, fading to rusty brown, barely visible.

Margaret reached the bench in the center of the garden and sank onto it. She was readying herself, he knew. She never came up willingly. He had kept her here for three years, and not once had she ever freely bared her neck, not once had she ever walked up the steps to him of her own accord.

He regretted that.

And it made him wonder. If she was such trouble, why did he bother with her?

Margaret turned her head as an owl hooted softly and glided through the garden. With his acute vision, he could easily make out the two small wounds on her neck. His breathing came quicker as he saw the two puncture wounds. She had stopped trying to heal them the second month of her stay- he never left her alone long enough for them to scab over and scar. So she left them uncovered, two small holes on her neck, the blood clotting black in the center and ringing each hole in scarlet.

The sight of them never failed to stir him. His. She was all his. He ran his tongue over his teeth once more, this time impatiently, knowing that in a few moments in would be night and then he could rule his land once more. And maybe tonight, maybe tonight would the be the night she would come willingly.

She sat still and quiet on the bench, watching the sun set. But he knew, in his heart, that she did not watch it with the same impatient desire he did. She watched it in dread, praying that it would slow, that the sun would halt in it's downward path.

But it did not; it never did. Just as the last light disappeared in the west sky, he turned and walked through his manor. It was old, crumbling in some parts, falling into disrepair since no living person besides Margaret ever visited here. He strode through his halls quickly, ignoring the decay and dust. He would have Margaret soon, and that was all that mattered. It had been four days since he had last tasted her, and the hunger had grown demanding. Just the thought of her sped his steps.

But when he reached the grand stone stairway that led to the garden, Margaret was not standing there waiting for him. He would have to fight her tonight.

Margaret, he commanded, and felt her flinch away from his voice. He forced her name on her once more, Margaret, and left it ringing through her mind. The bloodlink with her was strong- he had never kept any woman alive as long as Margaret, and he had never been able to have a link so strong before.

He used it to his advantage, and ordered, Margaret, come to me.

He waited.

Margaret came, trembling, steps slow and awkward as she tried to fight the bloodlink forcing her forward. She was not crying tonight- she had not cried for months now. He was glad. He couldn't stand to see her bright blue eyes shining with tears. It took something away from seeing her, and he didn't want anything to mar his feeding.

Finally she climbed the stairway and stood, still shaking and fighting the bloodlink and his orders, beside him. He took her hand and this time spoke the command aloud. "Accompany me upstairs."

And so, of course, pale and trembling she walked with him into the dark manor house and up another set of stairs to his rooms.

This next order was always the hardest to give. Still, he looked at her and whispered, "Stay still."

She didn't- couldn't- move as he come closer. Anticipation thrummed through him. Four days, only four days, and he wanted to taste her again so badly that his hands shook as he held her head. He kissed her softly- she still didn't move, didn't react like he wished she would; that was why he hated ordering her to stay still. He trailed his lips down her jaw, down her neck, and the faint coppery taste of her blood sent fire racing through his stomach. He opened his mouth and dragged it over her wounds, touched each wound with the tip of his tongue, and then positioned his teeth and sank them deep into her flesh.

She gave a slight cry of pain- she always did, and it somehow always made him pause in his feeding. But she quieted quickly and he drank her blood, draining her quickly. He sucked at her throat until Margaret's eyes rolled and she collapsed into his arms, unconscious and weak with blood loss. He quickly forced himself away from her neck and held her. He carried her to the bed and pulled her limp form onto his lap. With the taste of her still pulsing through his mouth, he stroked her hair gently and held her, waiting for sleep to drag him down into the same place she was.

When he awoke a few hours later, she was awake but still beside him. She had been commanded not to move, and she hadn't. He looked down at her quietly, seeing the tear tracks that were always there when he woke.

"Leave," he said, and his voice was rough.

Silently Margaret stood, and this time she did not fight his command. She fled his room.

Author's Note: Reviews are appreciated. I know that he isn't the regular type of vampire, but bear with me, it'll be explained what he can and can't do. Next chapter will be from Margaret's viewpoint.