Eleanor spent the next few days tending to her flowers. She rearranged them so she could get her newest flower planted and got most of them ready for the winter.
As she dug into the dirt, she felt another nail chip off. Looking at the nail, she sighed. Eleanor was growing tired with each passing day, but there was nothing she could do other than make the herbs that Alice gave her into a tea.
And Grayson seems to leave before she wakes up and comes home when she is in bed. The only reason she knew he slept next to her was because the sheets were in disarray when she woke up.
She did not like being avoided.
Eleanor planned on confronting her husband that night. They needed to amend their differences; she could only handle their current situation for so long.
She dug her hands into the dirt again, the cold from it waking her mind up more. She worked for hours, sweat dripping down her face. She wiped she forehead with her sleeve, leaving a smudge of her dirt on her face. The exertion of the gardening caused her breaths to come out in small pants.
‘Well, this is not good,’ She thought as she tried to catch her breath. The harder she tried, the more she felt like she could not. Black dots began to dance in her vision.
Swaying on her knees, Eleanor tried reaching out to grab something. But instead, she grabbed only air. Falling over with a loud THUD, Eleanor allowed the darkness to take over.
The assailant licked his teeth as his lips curled up in a snarl. His tongue lingered on the elongated canine. ‘How can that be?’ Eleanor thought. She was sitting on the floor, leaning on her hands with arms behind her as she slowly crept herself away from this…thing. The marble floor gave off a coldness that was like a slap to the face, reminding her that there was nothing that could save her.
He stepped forward, the shadow across his face gave nothing away of his identity. Eleanor could barely see his body, everything around him was hazy and dark. Except for those damn fangs. Even in the shadows, they seem to glisten.
Eleanor was about to turn and throw herself into a run when he suddenly was a few inches from her face. The shadows had moved slightly, just enough to be able to catch just a hint of midnight black hair curled by his ear. A low growl-like rumble exited his lips, the sound bounced off the darkness and assaulted her ears. “What do you want?” Eleanor choked out.
He did not answer. Instead, he tilted his head. She could not see where his eyes were looking, but she could feel them.
They were on her neck.
The jugular vein was pulsing uncontrollably. Without thinking, Eleanor tilted her head, giving him better access to her neck.
He grabbed her shoulders and quickly brought his head down to her neck. His fangs brushed against her skin, making her shiver with fear…and delight. She heard him inhale her scent, just before plunging his sharp canines into her jugular.
Eleanor felt herself being shaken, a hand gripping her shoulder.
“Miss, wake up! Are you alright?”
Eleanor slowly opened her eyes. The smell of dirt and flowers filled her nostrils. Confused and head throbbing, she slowly lifted her head, turning it slightly to look up towards the voice.
She squinted at a man. “May I help you?”
The man furrowed his eyebrows. “I should be asking you that miss.” He reached out and gently grabbed her arm, helping her to a sitting position.
“Ow, I must have hit my head.” Eleanor gingerly touched the side of her head where the throbbing was most intense.
‘Did I…Did I have a dream?’ She could not remember, she only knew it was something important, like a warning.
The man released her arm but stayed in a squatting position. “What happened?”
Eleanor glanced at him, quickly taking in his appearance. He held himself like a footman and dressed like one. The entire ensemble was black save the white undershirt and was decorated with silver buttons. Under the top hat showed black slicked back hair. His face was clean shaven with hollow cheeks and a long straight nose. Nothing particularly special about the middle age gentleman.
Eleanor just shook her, then instantly regretted the action. “I do not know. One moment I was tending to my garden, the next I am lying next to it.”
The gentleman just stared at her.
“Um. Who are you?”
This seemed to snap the man out of his thoughts. “I apologize deeply,” he stood up and took a step back. “The name is Richard; I am the footman to my master Eilif.” He bowed deeply with one arm in front and the other behind his back.
Eleanor blinked. “Master Eilif?”
The footman straightened back up. “Yes, milady.”
She gently touched her forehead in annoyance. “What does he want?” She sighed. The lingering feeling of a dream was affecting her. She wanted to be left alone.
The footman’s face did not give any reaction to her tone. “Master Eilif wished for me to extend an invitation to you.”
Eleanor blinked at him again. “Ok…” She gestured with her hand for him to continue.
“Master Eilif would like you to come to his estate in a fortnight for dinner. He wishes to converse with you about some important manners.”
Eleanor did not say anything.
Richard continued. “We will provide a carriage, so you do not have to ride your horse. We will arrive here several hours before sunset.”
Eleanor continued to stare at the man. “No.” she said bluntly.
Richard furrowed his eyebrows. “No, miss?”
Eleanor tilted her head. “No.” she said again.
The footman shifted uncomfortably. “Will the miss provide a reason for declining the invitation so I may inform master Eilif?”
Eleanor stood up and brushed the dirt off her skirts. After taking her time she brought her attention back to the footman. “No.” she said simply again. “Now, would you kindly get off my property? I have chores to attend to.” With that, she turned and walked into her house.
Shutting the door, Eleanor leaned her back against it. She waited until she heard the carriage roll away before she allowed herself to relax.
Shoulders slumping, she made her way to the kitchen to make tea with the herbs Alice gave her.
Eleanor’s thoughts wandered to her passing out. She felt weaker, more fragile than usual. She was always a weak woman strength wise, but this deeply concerned her. She could barely lift the kettle filled with water. Even this exertion led to her breathing to coming out in gasps.
This caused her eyes to tear up. Eleanor knew her end was coming close. No one could help her. She went to a doctor while Grayson was away, but he only prescribed her pain meds which did nothing but make her vomit, and on one occasion, tried to leach her. Unfortunately, the doctor treated her like she was over exaggerating her symptoms and tossed her aside. There was nothing she could do but wait for her impending death.
A loud CLANK filled the room when Eleanor dropped the kettle, water splashed on her dress, shoes, and the floor. She bent over and covered her mouth, trying to muffle her cries. She never fully processed what was happening to her until now. The idea of her dying from her illness never seemed real. Deep down she always thought she would be fine, that there would be some kind of cure to come along or her body would just naturally get better on its own. She was wrong.
Slumping to the floor, Eleanor cried tears of anguish.
‘I don’t want to die.’ She thought to herself as she started to rock herself back and forth. ‘I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.’
Eleanor looked up and saw the black coat Eilif gave her through her blurry eyes. The tears were still flowing, but her hysteria started to diminish.
Slowly, she started to crawl towards the coat. It was exactly where she threw it days before, crumpled up in the corner of the kitchen, slightly hidden. Eleanor grabbed it and sniffed it again. The smell of iron seemed to sooth her nerves.
Without thinking, she put on the coat.
The warmth of it felt nice and comforting, but she still did not feel better. Death was still clouding her brain so she could not fully enjoy it.
Suddenly, the sun was blinding her. She lifted her hand to block the rays when she saw that it was the bottle of whiskey that was causing the sun to blind her.
Eleanor crawled to the table and greedily grabbed the bottle. It was half full, indicating Grayson has been drinking a little less the past few days.
Sitting on the floor, she scooted herself over to the corner and wedge herself between the cabinet and the wall.
Eleanor took a swig from the bottle and started to cough the moment the liquid left a fire trail down her throat.
After her coughing fit settled, she leaned against the wall. Eleanor hugged her knees with the bottle sandwiched between her thighs and chest. Her head slumped to the side, willing the whiskey to take some of her fears away.
As her eyelids started to feel heavy, one last tear trailed down her cheek.
‘I don’t want to die,’ she thought again as she slowly drifted into a dreamless sleep.