The one where she's on a mission (Chapter 1)
“Fuckity fuckity, shit shit shit”
I try to lift my heel but the shoe is stuck. I take my right foot out of my black heel and I try to pull my black heel out from between the cobblestones while also balancing my notebook in one hand. The force almost sends me flying backward.
Normally I would never wear these contraptions, I’m more of a flats gal- or maybe a good bootie in the cool Frankfurt autumns, but it’s a special day.
After six months of reading and studying, writing interview guides and sending revised Ph.D. proposals to my ever absent supervisor, and then an additional five months of the coronavirus putting off my in-person interviews, today I finally get to really start my research.
People bump by on their way to shopping or lunch, but I walk down the Fressgass with purpose towards the concrete jungle that is the Westend. My destination- the gold vault- or whatever the hell it is called in German, I can never remember.
Yes, a restaurant called the gold vault in the Westend, the fanciest part of Frankfurt, a place of black suits and gray pencil skirts, financiers, and all of the jazz. One might say that I am intimidated; a Ph.D. student more use to jeans and a navy blazer than heels and tailored dresses, but that isn’t my problem. My problem is a certain gatekeeper who I will need to get through before I can even dream of conducting my research, a certain Fredrick von Graf.
I pass the grandness of the Old Opera and begin to walk through the distinctive high-rises of the Westend. While I often gaze at them from my apartment, I rarely walk among them. They give the city a more North American feel and I have enough of that at home, here I prefer the pedestrianized streets of the old town.
After walking through the jungle of skyscrapers, I finally reach my destination. It’s a pre-war two-story building in a classical style with ivory stone pillars and thick stone walls. The second story is mostly an open porch upon which I can see tables and gray outdoor couches. A modern lacquered black sign with gold letters rests on the front grass announcing Goldkellerei.
It’s out of place in the modern Westend and it is surrounded by multi-story glass office buildings. Yet it’s the type of place I could see an executive dining clients or a COO having their retirement party. It’s the sort of upper-class restaurant that I have only passed by and never dared step foot into because I hear fainting when you get the bill is frowned upon in those circles.
My heart is beating from nerves and my palms are sweaty, which pisses me off. I am a Ph.D. student for goodness sake, not an undergrad who has never interviewed anyone before. I don’t allow myself any more time to get it together, it’s just too stupid, I walk with determination up the four or five stone steps and push open the thick wooden door.
Immediately darkness surrounds me. As my eyes adjust I see that the room is completely made of the same ivory stone as the outside of the building. It’s a foyer for a restaurant with a few wooden benches with navy cushions with gold trim, and a reception desk like it’s a hotel. Old fashioned lamps dot around the outskirts of the room with the same navy and gold trim.
I walk forward towards the desk and the pale woman who stands behind it. She is beautiful with long black shiny hair, a pinched nose, and a black blazer. Her eyes are a rich brown, like damp earth as they warily watch me approach. Hmm… some serious bitchy resting face there.
“Moin, Tut mir leid. Wir sind geschlossen” It’s beyond annoying that I can’t really speak German. She doesn’t smile at me but seems to expect some sort of action.
“Guten Morgen… uh… Ich habe ein ter-termine mit Herr von Graf” I want to do a little celebration on the spot. I had practiced that sentence several times this morning- time well spent if I say so myself.
“Name please?” Well shit. She clearly realized immediately that I’m an English speaker.
“Alexis Hemstock. I’m from Goethe University”
She nods before she picks up the phone and speaks for a few minutes in German while eyeing me up. I smile back at her as though it makes it more likely that she’ll let me in, that works right? Of course, it does.
“Follow me please” Her frown deepens as she turns and begins walking into the restaurant.
I follow looking around in wonder. There are more thick walls between the foyer and the restaurant, but on the other side of those walls is a completely different atmosphere. It’s perhaps a medium-sized restaurant, but it makes an impression. A dark wood wall trim covers the bottom half of the wall while the top half is covered in a navy fabric with vibrant jewel tones flowers with gold details. Navy cushioned benches line the perimeter of the room while the deep wood theme is continued in the round tables and modern chairs. A large modern chandelier hangs in the center of the room with thin sheets of gold in place of crystals that gleam in the light. The large windows on either side of the room are covered in a thin deep gray shade making the room immediately dark and mysterious.
“Wait here” she exits leaving me alone in one of the most magnificent rooms I have ever seen.
My mouth hangs open like an idiot as I take in the room. I have been in a lot of rooms in my 28 years, fancy rooms, modern rooms, heck I did the Buckingham palace tour once, but the deep vibrant luxury of this room is astounding.
“Good morning, Miss. Hemstock” A deep voice resonates through the room.
I feel a pleasurable tingling down my spine. Damn, I didn’t expect that. I turn around to see a beautiful man; there is no other way to describe him. A tall pale man with a slim figure and wide shoulders, wavy blond hair that sits on top of his head like a crown of hay, and light brown eyes- so light they almost match the gold of the room.
And then he smiles at me. A warm smile by most measures, a welcoming smile. Until his fangs pop over his light pink lips shining in the light.
Yes, that’s right, I have managed to get myself an interview with a vampire.