Drake (Book 1)

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[9]-Swan Lake

Paris

9:22 p.m.

Tonight’s venue was an awesome display of the classic ballet, Swan lake. Ethereal-like music resonated through the crowd and opera house, as the performers danced and twirled around the stage without flaw. Months of broken toes, sprained ankles, and hard falls would all come to fruition tonight in this brilliant display of love and tragedy. Drake sat within the crowd in the middle row wearing a fitted black and white tuxedo. Wealthy bureaucrats, actors, and other people of significance surrounded him, unaware of the wolf hiding within the flock.

The performers dressed in splendid costumes, some resembling white swans with their purity and elegance. Others dressed as royalty, to include the prince, his mother and companions along with the evil sorcerer, Rothbart. He watched as the stage became a dark shroud with a makeshift moon to resemble midnight, allowing the white swan and her maidens to take human form.

From midnight to daybreak, the swans took their human forms while during the day they reverted to their original forms. Only true love could break the curse, that was, unless the prince died before it could be lifted. But Drake wasn’t interested in the white swan with all her purity and grace. He waited for the black swan and this performance in companion to Lyn’s was amateur. He thought of her emerald eyes and long, green hair. How she tied in that high ponytail so her hair wouldn’t blow in her face. How gracefully she danced when she performed as both the white and black swan. He hated that he had to lie to her.

The curtains closed after the second act as the cast and stage crew changed costumes and moved around the objects on the stage. Dim lights appeared on the ceiling, lighting the opera house, but not too overbearing. A waiter came down each row offering the audience a different assortment of beverages and liquor. Drake waved to the waiter, taking off a tall glass of champagne from his platter and taking a sip. Not bad…

He heard a deep voice growl behind him. “It’s been a long time…”

Maybe Ulysses’ letter wasn’t so far-fetched after all. That voice was irrefutable.

“Pavium…” he replied.

Drake turned his head while keeping the same stoic expression he always wore. His blue eyes blazed in the darkness. Sitting behind him was underworld crime boss and once right-hand man, Pavium. Pavium chuckled and leaned forward, his head looming over Drake’s shoulder. That twisted smile on his face never changed. Not once in nine centuries. His scent was that of blood and corruption.

“I should kill you right now,” Drake said, keeping his gaze on the stage.

The curtains parted as Act III began. The performers found themselves in a costume ball. Drake wondered if he could make it for his own party tonight. Pavium chuckled once more, hinting a pinch of defiance.

“Why would you kill me if we haven’t completed our contract yet?”

“Power has corrupted you. You aren’t even human anymore-”

“And you are?” Pavium quipped.

Drake turned behind him. Pavium’s face was sullen and his deep black eyes housed no soul. No hint of any humanity remained and one could often say the eyes were the window to the soul. Ancient runes colored in blue covered one side of his face leading down to his neck. His hulking frame took up at least two seats on his own. How did this man fit through doors, or even his car?

Pavium gulped his glass of champagne. “I didn’t know ballets were your thing.”

“They’re not-”

He thought the shadows on the wall at the end of his row moved. A chill rushed through his bones. He looked over, but there was nothing there. Until he glimpsed her hair…

Irene?

In the rows across from him near the last seat, he saw her as clear as day. With deep violet eyes and hair as white as a patch of snow stood Irene. She winked before sauntering up the aisle towards the exit. Drake jumped from his seat as he followed her to the exit. Pavium noticed his champagne remained full and took it upon himself to finish it.

Drake offered his condolences as he walked through the rows with haste, blocking people’s view or bumping them with his arms. He jogged to the exit, ending up in the main lobby where Irene waited by a door that said Stage Only. She smiled and opened it, closing it behind her. Drake followed once more and opened it. The dark hallway twisted and winded, leading behind the stage to the dressing rooms.

He ambled through the dressing room, past the lighted mirrors and the racks of costumes and masks. In the background, the classical music continued but was faint. He passed a few privacy screens where the performers undressed and a few lockers. The room continued, leading him to an area filled with blank mannequins, some wearing wigs. He noticed a full mannequin wearing the black swan costume, a tight black dress with feathers and wings in the back.

“So, when are you gonna break my curse?” a voice mused.

Irene watched him from a cubicle, make-up littered around its counters. She sat in the chair, crossing her legs in an urbane manner. The woman was shy and insolent like a dove. She wore a black blouse with gold patterns and emblems along with red leggings and high black boots. A white scarf snaked itself around her neck that matched her hair.

Drake sighed. “This was your favorite ballet. I used to take you to see it all the time…”

“Ah, you remember.”

“I also remember that you’re dead. I watched you fall. This is some kind of sick trick-”

Irene tilted her head. “Is it though?” She stood up and approached him. Her hands felt as cold as ice as she touched his cheeks. Cold, but real. Her lips were inches away from his. “Your powers. You can’t even tell what’s real and what’s not anymore can you?”

Drake stifled a gasp. Irene chuckled and stepped back.

“I’m in control. I always have been,” Drake replied.

“We’ll see about that…”

He blinked, and Irene was gone.

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