“Her name is Raina Corliss,” the barmaid revealed as she glanced toward the stage. The man she spoke to did not acknowledge her in the slightest, for he sat in spellbound silence unable to release his gaze from the dancing beauty in front of him.
Lord Marcus Loxley did not fit in at the small theater house in the dregs of London. As a gentleman of breeding, he did not frequent such places where he would be forced to mingle with the common people. But Marcus was a predator and common blood was oh, so delicious to prey upon. He sometimes visited two or three dance halls or taverns a night looking for women to drink of. He loved nothing more than to stalk one into a dark alley where he could hold her down and drink her terror filled blood deep into him. Then, Marcus thought with building excitement, he would force her skirts up and—
“Anythin’ else I can get ya sir?”
He grasped the woman’s wrist and stared intensely into her frightened eyes. A hint of amusement played across his utterly beautiful face as he considered eating her, but remembering where he was, and that such things were frowned upon in polite society, he moved her hand to his lips and instead brushed them softly over her milky skin. She shuddered sweetly like a chill had tingled her spine.
“Another brandy then,” he said with a wicked smile and released her. The girl breathed in sharply and fumbled for his glass before hurrying away to refill it. He had felt her blood rush, the little hairs on her arm rise and stand on end; it was a mixture of fear and desire causing her hormones to dance.
Sitting in the balcony alone at the table, he shifted his focus back to the stage and Raina as it were. She reminded him of someone he loved long ago, in a time when he still knew what love meant. She danced slowly and hypnotically, weaving together a story in motion. The music was beautifully eerie, he thought, as her movements portrayed something that reminded him of a girl in love, so joyful and innocent. But then the music swelled and became darker, and she moved faster and more dramatically. She tore off the flowing white dress, revealing only black lace and thigh-high stockings, and he sensed the crowd’s excitement as they were also drawn in by the little seductress.
The drumbeat became faster and louder and she fell to her knees. All went silent. A mournful note rose from the violin and she was left reaching into nothingness, nearly naked and alone as though her love had been ripped away from her, along with her innocence. Her soul left wanting, Marcus mused.
The crowd clapped and shouted as the lights faded and the theater dimmed. Marcus however, remained frozen in time as he studied the girl with his vampire eyes. His heart thundered in his ears as her chest moved rapidly up and down, in her black lace brazier. Her gold hair fell into her face and down her bare stomach, and he felt bewitched as she kneeled there on her knees, illuminated by gaslight.
A memory stirred. Suddenly her sparkling lingerie transformed into a white dress, her face became smudged with ash and her hair flowed wildly in the ocean wind. Her wrists were bound in front of her and she lifted her head defiantly.
But then it was Raina’s exotically curved ocean eyes that met his, and although he was hidden in darkness he knew she could feel him. She rose and flitted off stage.
In three hundred and fifty years, Marcus had learned to find pleasure in life, or whatever version of life this was— enjoying anything and everything he possibly could. But life tended to drag on and on... So even the most exciting things lost their luster. His kills became more elaborate, sex more sadistic. He lost his conscience long ago as morality was nothing but an inconvenience to his self-indulgence. The way he saw it, a soul cursed to walk this earth forever might as well enjoy himself. Mortals had rules, because they lived within a society, and morals because someday they would die and face their maker. And they cherished life and each other because neither lasts. He lived on the outside of these realities and had forgotten what it felt like to be human, and therefore lived by no rules and for no one. But tonight, something strange rose within his black soul.
Feeling shaken, he got up to leave, rattling the glass of untouched brandy. As he walked through the theater he felt the eyes of several women upon him, could almost smell the lust seeping from their pores. If only they knew that having him, meant death for them, and still they probably couldn’t help themselves. Stupid whores.
The fall equinox celebration was in full swing as he stepped into the cool night air, and he breathed in the scents of autumn and of all the people that danced around in costumes and painted faces. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a figure in black turn into the alley, one with long golden hair that caught on the breeze. His blood quickened as he realized, it’s her, and he followed. Excitement welled within at the thought of touching her, taking her, possessing her.
He came upon her in an instant and backed her into the fence. The excitement stopped abruptly as expressive brown eyes shined back at him. She opened her mouth to scream but he stifled it by pressing his hand roughly against her small mouth. He didn’t bother seducing her into a dark corner first as he probably should have, for the fury coursing through him did not allow for such pleasantries. He felt out of control, emotional, for the first time in ages and it made his blood boil.
He grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground. She cried out but no one heard her over their drunken celebrating. He pulled the black domino mask off her big, tearful brown eyes. “Oh well,” he said to her, brushing wild strands out of her face. “Soon they will close forever.” Maybe she does kind of remind me of that charming little theater wench after all, he said to himself, and ripped her skirts apart.
Painfully hard, he entered her, and her body shuddered beneath him. She uttered a cry only he could hear and she began to struggle. “Oh yes, wriggle for me,” Marcus taunted, then sunk his teeth into her neck. The disturbance that rocked his soul at the familiar sight of Raina faded as blood pulsated into his mouth, and he savored the feel of her body stilling forever. Finishing intensely, he pulled away from her and fastened his trousers, putting himself back into sorts. He walked away so calmly one might think he was simply out for an evening stroll, and he does not so much as glance at the girl who lie dying in a disheveled mess in the alley. After all, it was just another day for the devastatingly gorgeous, and the equally as deadly, Marcus Loxley.