Chapter One


A young woman with shining maroon hair leans against a railing on a balcony. The balcony looks down on a party in a large house. The woman watches silently, scanning the crowd. A girl walks into the room. The woman can smell her perfume from the balcony, a peachy scent. Innocence blossoms from the girl, excitement filling her eyes. This is obviously her first party. She wanders along the crowd, unsure of what to do. After about thirty seconds, a young man steps out from the crowd and stops the girl. He holds out his hand and asks her to dance. Astonishment spreads across the girl's face as she accepts and is pulled onto the dance floor. The woman could only imagine the wild thoughts going through the girl's head. She is so naive and stupid. The scene was all too familiar.

She walked into the large ballroom, wearing her mistress's red dress. She knew she shouldn't be here, but her masters weren't home and this would probably be her only chance to do anything like this in her life. She stood in the entrance for a moment, soaking it all in. So many beautiful women in bright colored dresses. Then men were gorgeous, their smiles enchanting. She had been to many balls, hosted by her master, Lord Winsten, but never had she been invited. She was always serving the delicate wines and appetizers.

She watched the men and women dance elegantly around the dance floor, never seeming to miss a beat. If only she could dance like that. But she had never danced before, at least never with a partner. She had never even touched a man before, at least not in any romantic way. Men never looked at her that way. She was just a servant girl. But tonight was different. She was going to make this the best night of her life. That's when He stepped put of the crowd-

"I do not understand you one bit Anna," says a smooth voice, bringing the women back to the present. Anna sighs, turns from the railing and looks at the man in the corner of the balcony room. He looks no older than twenty, and is lounging in a black leather chair. Two girls sit on either arm of the chair, gazing at him like he is some sort of God. The scene disgusts Anna. She shakes her head and grimaces.

"You never will Brendan," Anna says and tears her eyes from his deep, black eyes. He shakes a stray strand of brown hair out of his eyes and leans forward.

"If you're so against these parties, why do you throw them? I don't see the logic! And anyways, we've been having these parties for centuries. It's how we survive." Anna sighs again and then looks back down at the party. She watches the young girl from earlier follow the man to a corner, excitement in her eyes. If she only knew the true meaning of him bringing her there.

"It's all about politics Brendan," Anna says, "You should know that by now. The best parties attract the best guests." Brendan laughs softly.

"Girls, will you please excuse me?" Brendan asks the two girls. They sigh in disappointment but stand and leave the room. Brendan stands and walks over next to Anna. "This is not about politics Anna. I've known you for over two hundred years. You've never been into our politics. You're trying to find him aren't you?" Anna glares up at Brendan, who stands a good six inches above her.

"I am not." Brendan laughs again.

"You stand up here every time you have a party, staring down into the crowd. You're looking for someone. I'm not stupid Anna, I know you."

"No you don't!" Anna growls and walks away from him. "You always assume I'm looking for him. We're you not there that night? I'm not naive enough to believe he's coming back, because he's not."

"You might not believe it, but one can always hope right?" Brendan says with a hint of amusement. He likes to get her flustered. Sometimes she thinks he does it on purpose, no she knows he does.

"Why do I waste time with you?" Anna hisses and leaves the balcony. She goes down to the party and pushes her way through the crowd, until she find the young girl. She finds the girl just as the man leans down to feed. "Marc! Let the girl go!" Startled the man steps back from the girl and Anna takes her arm. The girl snaps out of the trance she was in and looks at Anna, confused and scared. Anna pulls her away from the man and toward the building's entrance.

"Anna! Anna wait! What are you doing?" Marc exclaims, following close behind. Anna ignores him and the young girl's protesting. The girl tries to pull free of Anna's deadly grip, but does not succeed. When they reach the front door Anna swings it open and shoves the girl out.

"What's your problem?" snaps the girl.

"You," Anna says sternly. "Stay out of this house. You're not welcome. Not unless you wish to die before you have even lived."

"But-" the girl begins.

"I just saved your life. Stop whining and thank me! Now go before I hurt you myself." The girl hurriedly turns away and runs to her car, gets in, and leaves.

"Anna, what did I do?" Marc asks as Anna turns and heads back into the house.

"Have I taught you nothing Marc?" Anna growls, trying not to slash out on him. Her anger was toward Brendan more than Marc, but she was still upset. "That girl was young and healthy. She had no right to be here. You know better than to go for the innocent girls. I would expect that from Brendan, not you." Anna begins to head back toward the balcony. Marc follows.

"Anna! I'm sorry! But it's hard to tell the bad from the good these days," Marc says. Anna sighs and turns to him.

"I know, I know. And I'm sorry too." Anna looks her young fledgling over. She remembers the first day she met him. Six years earlier he had come to her, seventeen and depressed. He had been diagnosed with Leukemia and his family couldn't afford treatment. He was so young and so much life to live. So, Anna gave him back that life, the best way she could. Until recently she thought he was going to be the beginning of a new way of feeding for her kind. Only feeding on and changing the sick and dying. But times are becoming harder. Girls are being invited to the parties randomly off the street. Once they are bitten, if they aren't killed, they become addicted. When her kind feed lightly, the feeling for the human is thrilling and relaxing. They always come back for more, leaving their lives behind. Marc was having a hard time sticking to Anna's rules. She couldn't really blame him. "I know it's getting harder, but that girl was shining with life. She had no idea what she was getting into when she came here. Try to stick with prey with invitations okay? Or at least ones who know what goes on here. Not ones who are clueless."

"I'll try Anna, but you owe me dinner now," Marc says and then gives her a quick hug. She smiles and then watches as he disappears into the crowd. She had never gotten a chance to have children. Marc was like her own child in a way. She loved him a lot, but in a motherly way, or like a big sister.

Anna heads back up to the balcony after talking to a few people, people with power. They commented on her party and promised to show at the next one. Apparently her parties were getting very popular. When Anna reaches the balcony entrance she stops when she sees a familiar outline of a man leaning against the railing.

"Ah, Anna," says Brendan from the chair. He has that usual grin on his face. "It seems you have a guest my dear. I believe you know-"

"Harlan!" Anna gasps as the man turns to face her.

"May I ask your name?" Asked the man holding out his hand. The girl shyly handed him her hand.

"Anna-Marie," she responded. He lightly kissed her hand and smiled.

"Anna-Marie, how lovely," he said. "I am Harlan. Would you like to dance?" She nodded and he lead her to the dance floor. She tried her hardest not to stumble or step on his feet. He did not say anything when she did, but instead helped her. Eventually she got a hang of it.

"You know Anna, you are a very lovely women. You are beautiful," Harlan said. Anna nodded and tried not to blurt out the same about him. He was the most gorgeous men she had seen. His blue eyes and neatly black gelled hair. He took her breath away.

"Thank you," she said. After a few more dances Harlan lead the girl to a corner, away from the ball.

"So my sweet, tell me your life story. I want to know every detail." Anna hesitated. Should she tell him she was a mere servant girl? If she did he would just cast her away. But if she lied she could tell Lord Winsten about her lying. Anna had never lied to anyone, why start now? So, Anna told him of how she worked for Lord Winsten and how he and his family had left for the summer to visit London. She explained how the dress was left behind and she merely borrowed it and intended to clean it and return it. Through the entire story telling, not once did Harlan look surprised or disgusted. He just smiled and listened. It actually unnerved her. When she finished she silently looked down at her feet, embarrassed. She had never talked so much in her life.

"Well, what a life you live. I think I might just steal you away from this Lord Winsten of yours. He doesn't deserve a sweet girl like you. Especially not as a servant." Harlan laughed. Anna looked up at him, surprised and confused.

"What do you mean steal?" Anna asks. Now she felt a bit scared maybe it was a bad idea to have come here. But before he could explain, a clock somewhere in the room struck twelve.

"Awe, sweet midnight," Harlan said. He looked at Anna, straight in the eyes. He had this intensity there, it seemed to hypnotize her. He lightly touched her cheek and leaned forward. She felt his lips brush her neck and closed her eyes. She suddenly felt very relaxed. After what felt like eternity he pulled away and Anna fell against him, tired. She fell asleep.

When she woke up the next morning, she was lying on a bed with Harlan lying next to her. When she asked where she was he replied simply, "Italy."