This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
I sat on the couch, nervously fiddling with my long brown strands of hair, curling them absent-mindedly around my fingers and letting them fall back into place only to repeat the process once more.
I glanced at the huge mirror in front of me to subconsciously check my appearance once more. Quite smart actually, dressed in a black suit with silk blouse and high-heeled shoes, immaculate in appearance. I looked at my eyes lovingly, probably the best asset as they expressed my emotions extremely well. My nails had been professionally manicured for today and my makeup was fresh and natural.
The room itself was larger than most reception areas I had been escorted to during my past interviews. Indeed, the whole place breathed luxury and upper class, and I half wondered if I would stand a chance, given the fact my suit wasn’t from Gucci. More like M&S in the sales. I started to become more uncomfortable and I excused myself from the other applicants waiting just as nervously as I, and walked into the restroom.
The first thing I noticed was a large sign with the company’s logo splashed lavishly using vibrant colours which still looked freshly painted. A shimmering notice-board was neatly stationed next to the sign and I quickly read the information there. A list of directors and company employee’s. Nothing special, I had seen this arrogance in companies before. I mean, come on! A sign in the toilet? As if employees would read that when washing their hands!
The restroom door opened and a young woman strolled into the restroom, taking a tissue from a complimentary box and wiping a mark on her beautiful dress carefully, as if she would tear the fabric with her two hands if she were not gentle enough. She turned to me, gave me a dazzling smile and then winked at me in a conspiratous manner.
“You are here for the interview?”
I nodded, clearing my throat. This was it, time to make an impression “Hi, my name is Alison Matthews” I promptly took her delicate white hand in my own and shook it firmly.
Immediately I recoiled. Her touch was like ice, like a death grip. I moved away from her a little and glanced at her warily, something about her manner was abnormal. It was nothing I could put my finger on exactly, just something amiss. Something that made me uncomfortable in her presence.
“My name is Amy. Amy Connolly” Amy announced brightly. “I am a manager here, it’s good to meet you.”
“Likewise” I mumbled, but to be honest I wasn’t sure. She had a very disturbing manner, and her blonde hair was almost supernatural. She moved like a panther, and her eyes glistened with humour and ... something else.
I was being slowly drawn into those stunning blue eyes, so easy to lose track of time and get absorbed into those clear-sky jewels that sparkled and danced with intelligence.
Amy moved away suddenly and looked sheepish. She waved goodbye and walked out of the restroom. I stood stunned, wondering what had happened. I wasn’t a lesbian, so it was uncommon for me to look at a woman so intensely and lose myself in her eyes. That wasn’t me.
I walked out of the restroom and re-joined the waiting applicants who had declined in numbers since I had taken my short break. I looked down at my nails, scanning them for any marks.
“Alison Mathers?” A young receptionist called out and signalled for me to walk into a smaller room.
“Matthews” I corrected before stepping through the door. As soon as I was inside, my mouth fell open in surprise. Picture your typical interview scenario. Men in suits crowded around a small table looking pompous and powerful, asking deliberately hard questions. Some even made sure the heating was on full blast just so they could see you sweat.
Well, this room was just the opposite. In the corner was a large table with a glass chessboard as its main centrepiece. There were three chairs, two occupied by men playing the game quietly. A fireplace was providing needed warmth, and a fan above me aired the room perfectly. There was a massive bookshelf lining the walls, and I walked towards the two men as if in a trance. It had an old-world feel to it, this room. There was wooden panelling on the walls, an ornate globe towards the window on a desk with a banker’s lamp stationed upon it. The desk was old and had engravings etched into the oak wood. This was a luxurious room. A chandelier hung above the chessboard, emitting fragmented light which hit the glass chessboard like diamond slivers, sparkling and shining with a beauty I’d rarely seen. The chair left for me was leather and as I made my way over towards it, I could smell the leather with deep, rich aromas. It blended perfectly with the fragrance circulating in the room, bringing a vibrancy to an otherwise old-fashioned arrangement.
“Take a seat,” one of the men offered, and pointed to the free chair. I glanced at him for a moment, noting his beautifully tanned skin, dark hair and perfect smile. I smiled back, and sat between the two men nervously.
“My name is James Atwood ” The dark-haired beauty introduced. “This is John Fresher, the founder of Fresher Enterprises”.
John Fresher was the nearest replica of Baywatch surfer hunks I had ever seen. His lavish blonde hair fell carelessly over his shoulders, tumbling effortlessly into a perfect style. His eyes were grey in the refracted light from the chandelier and as he gazed into my eyes he smiled gently.
“A pleasure indeed” John said, holding out his hand for me to shake.
I felt the same cold sensation as with Amy, and this time I held firm and did not recoil. John seemed pleased with this and indicated for James to shake my hand as well.
“You are Australian?” I said stupidly, cursing the words even as I had said them. His accent was self-explanatory.
John however seemed pleased that I had noticed this and beamed at me with delight “Yes, I was born in Adelaide and moved to England a while ago. It was strange seeing so many differences between the two places. But since then, England has become my home, and the home of my close family.”
“Family? You are married?” Again, I cursed myself. I sounded disappointed, but he only laughed good-naturedly and graced me with another generous smile.
“Not exactly. James, Clarissa and I live together. We are siblings. Our other sister Kenya also stays with us”. John became suddenly uncomfortable with the turn the conversation had taken. He appeared to be so flamboyant in some respects, and so reserved in others. It was enticing and exciting to watch his movements, the slight quiver of his lip and the smile fading into concern. Damn, I had gazed at him too long. I turned away quickly.
“Are you alright?” John asked me as he moved a chess piece. “Check mate.”
James cursed his bad luck and smiled confidently at me. “John always wins. I guess having five hundred years over me is an unfair advantage I cannot compare with...” James suddenly became cold and stared at me strangely.
“Five hundred years?” I murmured confused.
“It runs in the family” John corrected immediately “From generation to generation”.
“Ah, I see” I was powerfully confused, but also very excited. They were extremely attractive men, and their personalities were alluring to say the least.
“Have you any questions for us?” James smiled, seeing the notebook in my hands.
“Sure, but don’t you want to ask me anything?” I asked confused.
James and John smiled knowingly. They winked at me and laughed as if they both found this a huge joke.
“Not necessary, Alison” John smiled. “Not necessary at all”.
“Okay” I was more bemused than I had ever been in my life. Why didn’t they need to ask me questions? This was a job interview!
“We have read all we need to know from your CV. This is an informal meeting to decide if you fit in” James explained immediately.
“How can you know everything from my CV?” I asked, feeling a little overwhelmed. This was the strangest interview I had ever been to. I didn’t really know if I wanted to work here. The atmosphere was eerie.
John smiled at James; “We know more than enough. Trust us.”
James grinned at John; “Do you have any questions for us, Alison?”
“How long has Fresher Enterprises been going?” I asked them at once. I desired to change the conversation from the sublime to the ordinary. At least for a few moments.
John counted on his hands for a moment, and then appeared to be doing some calculations in his head. “Seventy-five years. Although I wasn’t actively involved until last year”.
“Wow, that’s a long time” I said, smiling.
“A ripple in the ocean of time” John answered cryptically.
I inhaled sharply “What services do the company provide?”
“Financial mainly. Stock market advice, estate agency services and pension plans” James answered, arranging the chess pieces into order so they could re-start the game.
“I see. What would my role entail?” I asked.
“Administration and support to John here. He is most untidy when it comes to office duties” James smirked. “So we’ve decided to hire a PA to help him with the basic tasks, and he can then concentrate on his business”.
I nodded. At least this part made sense.
“Sure” I said, smiling at the blonde haired handsome man with undisguised longing.
“You’re hired!” John said impulsively, laughing at my shock and wonder. “James, tell the others they have been unsuccessful”.
James shook his head, as if familiar with the impulsive manner and walked out of the room, leaving John and I alone together.
“You are twenty-two?” John asked, although it seemed he already knew and was trying to put me at ease.
“Yes” I answered.
“Can you start tomorrow evening?” John asked me, gesturing to the chessboard. I really had no idea of how to play chess, and moved a pawn indifferently.
“Yes of course” I had already been informed of the strange nightly hours I would be needed to work, but that was fine with me. I was being paid enough to cover it.
John grinned and moved his centre pawn. “The key to winning this game is to control the centre of the board early on”.
“Oh” I sighed. It would take me an eternity to work out this game.
“Maybe you shall have eternity to work it out,” John said cryptically.
James walked back into the room with some papers and a document folder. “Here is everything you need. You start work at eight thirty pm. You have a one hour break at midnight and work until four am.”
I nodded and shook both the men’s hands. This was the strangest place I’d ever agreed to work in, but it was exciting.
I knew I was in for an adventure, and I left the building feeling extremely eager for the next evening to begin.
The next evening I was dressed in a shimmering navy suit. I heard a horn from a car outside, and hurried out to discover a black Porsche at my doorstep. I was amazed, and as John signalled for me to get in, I felt my legs would buckle from the surprise.
“Good evening, Alison. I thought I would give you a lift to work” John explained as I blushed deeply.
“I ... I didn’t expect ....” I began.
“I love surprises” John said passionately.
I fastened my seatbelt and felt the tyres screech as John drove fast away from my flat. I was more than a little disturbed with the speed he was driving at. I was surprised the police didn’t pull us over.
We reached my new place of work in record time. John parked in the company car park and ushered me into the building.
“This is your office” John explained, guiding me into a large and lavishly decorated office with a chandelier and roaring fireplace. It was actually bigger than my entire home.
“All this is my office?” I asked.
“Yes. It is an office / home. You may spend more and more of your free time in the room adjoining this office which is yours”.
I walked into the adjoining room, a massive bedroom with a bathroom and balcony of the extensive gardens.
“I could move in here” I sighed, walking out onto the balcony and watching a fountain gush with water in the middle of an overflowing flowerbed.
“Feel free. This is yours, without cost as part of the job. You will also receive a company car and full benefits” John said. “Move in as soon as you wish. The days are yours, the nights belong to me alone as your employer”.
I nodded. This was amazing, and I didn’t want to leave the room. It was vast, with a four-poster bed with silken sheets and a roaring fireplace of its own in the corner.
“I anticipated your desire to live here, and I have arranged for all your belongings to be moved from that little flat to here. I trust you will be comfortable with this arrangement?” John asked.
“Yes” I answered, feeling I was in some extravagant dream from which I would eventually awaken.
John grinned. “Settle in and get yourself comfortable. I will expect you in the dining are at ten-thirty pm.”
Again, I nodded my head. I was unable to find any words that could express my gratitude and disbelief.
John grinned and left me alone to get acquainted with my new surroundings. I sat on the bed and tried to think, but my thoughts were confused and erratic.
At ten-fifteen, I wandered down into the dining area and was confronted by a group of young women sitting around a huge dining table chatting easily. I saw John sitting amongst them, a chair free by his side. I walked over to him and seated myself.
“Good evening Alison” John said and the young women turned to me and smiled.
“Good evening” I replied, blushing at the attention I was receiving.
“I would like to introduce you around. These girls work for me. There is Diana, Haley, Veronica, Sarah and Lisa”.
The girls all said hello, and I liked them. They were easygoing and very friendly. I felt at ease instantly.
The meal was exquisite, full of flavour and colour. There were three courses, and the wine was flowing freely. Needless to say, I felt more at a social gathering than at work.
“How are you finding it here?” Lisa asked me.
“Its amazing, but I must confess this doesn’t feel much like being at work” I smiled.
Diana smiled knowingly. “We serve our purpose in more ways than one”.
“What do you mean?” I asked worriedly.
“What she means is that you will settle in here just fine” John quickly said, casting a warning glance towards Diana. She shrugged her shoulders and resumed eating.
I was attracted to all the young women in the room, and I was angry with myself for having these emotions, which I could only describe as lust. They were all beautiful and charming women.
I wondered if John would be angry about my erotic feelings, but he was smiling at me and laughing to himself.
“Attraction towards beauty is normal” John informed me “Regardless of sex”
I smiled. “Does that mean you bat for both sides?”
John laughed again, “A charming way to put the issue - yes, I am bisexual”
I was amazed and delighted. I felt no shame for my feelings anymore, and contented myself with looking at the girls, drunk on wine and love.
“Is this all the employees of Fresher Enterprises?” I asked, amazed.
“Of course not” John grinned. “These girls work specifically with me, there are other managers like myself who have a department like this one. We all live in the same buildings, but different rooms. You’ll meet them all”.
“Ah, I see” I said.
John looked at me quite strangely, and then rose from his seat “Would you like to go now before your dinner is served? Would you like to meet them?”
I shrugged “Sure”.
John took my hand in his own, and guided me out of the lovely rooms into something a little different. Whereas John’s rooms had an earthy and lavish decoration, these rooms looked like relics from the past, with columns and strange writings on the walls.
“This is Cole Tanner’s department” John explained. “He is interested in history, as you can see”.
I smiled, and walked with John, and we peered into the dining area quickly to see Cole dining with six girls.
John didn’t introduce me, probably fearing the time it would take to walk around the massive buildings. I saw many others heading a department, including Jamesd and the woman I had briefly seen in the restroom on my interview day, Amy.
I was feeling like Alice in Wonderland by the time we had finished touring the offices and rooms. Each manager had a theme, like Cole with his ancient interior design, and Amy with her modern and flamboyant style. James and John shared the same homely and lavish tastes in interior design, however. Each manager had six girls by his/her side. It was all very strange.
“Why are there no men apart from managers?” I asked timidly.
“Women are simply more capable when it comes to administration” John replied as returned to our dining area.
I didn’t answer. This was all very strange and confusing. I had to admit, I agreed with him on that point however. But something didn’t add up. I was becoming increasingly worried about my new workplace, wondering if I had done the right thing in accepting the position here. This wasn’t work. What the hell was going on?
John seemed to sense my discomfort. He stopped and drew me into a tight embrace. “Do not be afraid. Everything is very normal here, we just had our way of working”.
“Good evening, John!” John turned sharply and looked pleased when he saw the woman who was walking towards us.
She was a pale-skinned black-haired beauty, dressed in black, which suited her raven hair. Her eyes were the colour of sapphires, and her face was very pale in the light of the room.
“Clarissa! Such a pleasure to see you this fine evening! I would like you to meet my new employee, Alison Matthews”.
Clarissa held out her hand “Good evening Alison. I am Clarissa Plywood. It is a pleasure to meet you”.
John grinned and pulled me close against him. “Alison is our newest employee, a novice”.
“Novice?” I echoed confused.
“Standard ranking of the girls that work here” John said.
“There are four ranks of employment here” Clarissa continued. “When you first join you are a Novice. When you have been here a while and know the company a little more you will be Sister, and finally you will be a Prefect when you have settled in and are making sufficient improvements to the business. It’s all standard in the company manual”.
I was still confused with the way things worked here, but decided to ignore the feelings and concentrate on settling in. “What’s the fourth ranking?”
Clarissa looked uncomfortable, and turned to look at John with a pleading expression on her face. John sighed “The fourth is unimportant for now. You will find out in time, but for now it is best to get you settled in”.
I nodded. I was more jumpy than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I was half plotting my escape, and John looked at me sharply. His blue eyes were glazed, and he seemed somewhat hurt.
John kissed Clarissa on the cheek, which had me standing there open-mouthed at the obvious affection between them.
“I will see you later” Clarissa said walking away. I gaped and John led me back to the dining area where the girls were tucking into dessert.
My confusion was clouding my judgement, and John suggested an early bedtime this evening. I agreed and left the girls early to brood over this strange company.
I had a feeling things were not as they seemed, and that frightened me.
Changing into my nightgown, I slipped under the silken covers and sighed deeply. Being in this bed was like sinking into eternity, the luxurious material seeming to sink into my very skin. I closed my eyes.
Everything is normal, everything is just fine.
I opened my eyes. John was sitting by my side. He touched my cheek gently and kissed me on the forehead.
“Hmmmm” I said sleepily “Nothing wrong, everything is just fine”
John moved beside me, and I felt his body pressed against my own. I had never felt safer or more loved in all of my life. I was content.
Very soon, I fell asleep feeling protected and comfortable.
It was the best night’s sleep I had ever had in my life.
“This doesn’t feel much like working” I commented a week later.
John grinned at me “Just pour a glass of wine. I know you like the stuff”.
“But its making me tipsy” I complained, feeling the light-headed sensation descend over me in waves.
“It’s just making you less tense” John disagreed.
I sighed and poured myself another glass. I laughed merrily. “You know, I was having doubts a week ago about this place”.
John suddenly became serious “Really? Why is that?”
“The structure of this place is bizarre and you are more like a boyfriend than a boss” I said.
John dropped to one knee beside me and smiled tenderly. “Is that a problem?”
“Oh no” I assured him “It’s just a little strange”.
“You’re drunk” John commented with a smile as my head rolled back.
“No” I slurred.
“You want the honest truth?” John grinned mischievously.
“Yes” I said, downing glass after glass of the expensive white wine.
“This business is a front for vampires” John whispered confidentially. “Each department has a vampire for a manager. He looks after six women, ensures they are fed and clothed and have every desire”.
“Don’t vampires live on blood?” I asked, sobering slightly.
John nodded. “Yes, and the women we have here provide all we need”.
I instinctively reached for my throat and looked worriedly at John. “You mean ......” I was unable to complete the sentence.
“No” John burst out laughing. “Not at all! We never harm any of the women in our care. That would be cruel and unnecessary”.
“So how does it work then?” I asked.
John lifted me up gently, and walked over to the bed. He lowered me onto the silken sheets of his own massive four-poster, and started to undress me.
I was beyond any coherent thought. I was writhing in passion, begging for him to make love to me. I watched him, as dipped his head to my small pubic mound and started to lick and suck and tease me. I gasped and threw my head back carelessly onto the soft pillows. I writhed beneath him, taking hold of his head and pushing him further into me.
I realised suddenly with horror that I was on my period. I gasped with disbelief and wriggled away from John, and sat with a blanket around me, tears streaming down my face.
“What do you expect?” John asked gently.
I was not satisfied by any stretch of the imagination. I felt cold and fragile. Desire faded into bitterness, and quite suddenly, I felt John’s strong arms encircle me and hold me close.
“We do not kill” John explained gently. “There is no need. Why kill, when women have the ability to feed our hunger. No death is required, no loss of human life. Just a little trust and dignity is needed”.
“But this is horrible” I cried suddenly, leaning into his shoulder. I didn’t care if my makeup stained his shirt. “I can’t take this, month after month”.
“Why not?” John challenged “I’m not hurting you, or forcing you into doing anything you don’t wish. Besides, you desired me. I couldn’t force such a sexual appetite from you”.
I suddenly realised I had sobered up considerably. Tears ran from my reddened eyes, and I was feeling more and more miserable.
“Let me love you” John whispered softly, gently “If I do not satisfy you, then I shall never drink from you again”.
I wrapped the blanket firmly around my sobbing frame. “You can’t do that, not when I’m so miserable”.
John unwrapped me, gently but firmly. He kissed my lips tenderly and cupped one of my breasts in his strong hand. “Trust me. The promise is real. If I do not earn your complete devotion, then I shall never ask you again”.
I sighed, resigned. “You promise?” It was a stupid question, but I needed the reassurance.
John simply nodded. A small grin of satisfaction illuminated his expression, and he dipped his head once again to my breast. Satisfied the small bud was hard enough, he moved between my legs once again, kissing the swollen flesh, heated by my intense passion. I didn’t feel his teeth pierce my tender skin. The only feeling was orgasm after orgasm cascading over me like a waterfall. It didn’t end, it was rapidly becoming too much for my human heart and I eventually passed out amidst the intense sensation.
Now I knew why orgasms lasted only a short while. The intensity could give someone a heart attack with the ferocity of the passion. John knew my limits however. No doubt he had pleasured many women over his years as an immortal, and before that as a human being. I came around, my heart still pounding and my pulse racing and he had left me alone. I was in the bed, wrapped warmly under the covers and my body was still winding down.
I got up a little shakily and walked over to the door where I found a note hastily scrawled. It was John’s handwriting. I opened it, and my heart leapt in fear.
‘Dearest, one of the girls has been taken ill. I fear it is something serious. Please meet me at the hospital when you awaken. A driver is waiting for you outside. John.’
I closed my eyes, panicking. The girls were my friends, and we were a close family. We all shared the vampires secrets. Hastily dressing, I practically ran out of the door and into the car waiting for me. The driver hurried me to the hospital, but I was unprepared for the complete shock that awaited me.
The driver was like a maniac, tearing down the side streets until we reached the hospital. Thankfully, we arrived there safely and without accident.
I ran inside. I walked up to the receptionist and asked her if a girl, approximately my age was brought into the hospital accompanied by a blonde haired man.
The receptionist nodded gravely. “We have a situation presently. Would you wait in this room for a while? I’ll have them buzz the officers who have Mr Fresher in for questioning, and we will let you in shortly. Are you a relative of Diana?”
“Yes” I nodded “She’s my sister. Did you say officers?”
The receptionist smiled sadly. “I’m afraid so, but I can’t tell you anything more. Please wait here for a moment”.
I sat in the small waiting area, fear pounding through my heart and thudding through my entire body. I wondered vaguely where the other girls were, and nervously gulped a couple of times.
After a long while (which felt like an eternity to me) John emerged, looking worried and upset. Clarissa was beside him, her arm around John’s waist protectively. He saw me waiting impatiently and sighed with relief.
I was instantly on my feet, crossing the distance between us as fast as I could and I practically flew into his eager embrace. I was crying uncontrollably.
“What happened?” I finally asked, my sobbing subsiding. “The receptionist said there were police officers involved”.
John nodded gravely. “What have you been told, Alison?”
“Nothing really” I answered truthfully.
John sighed and glanced at Clarissa with a worried expression on his face. I had the sudden feeling something absolutely awful at happened, and I was shaking all over.
John took my hand within his own and continued “Diana was hurt badly three hours ago in a house fire. She has been badly burnt, and we are unsure if she will survive. Unfortunately, the fire took hold in the room and spread to the other girl’s rooms ... to your room as well. Thank god you were in my room, separated from the others”.
“The others?” I asked fearfully.
John shook his head sadly, and gazed at me as if trying to determine my thoughts. Good luck. Not one was coherent at this moment in time. I was shattered.
“You said someone was taken ill, not that there was a fire” I stammered with tears flooding my eyes and rolling down my pale cheeks. I felt close to collapse and felt John’s strong arms encircle me, holding me to him.
“I didn’t want you to panic” John answered.
I almost laughed despite the tragedy of the situation. I had panicked all the way to the hospital, despite John’s toning down of the situation. Suddenly I felt a terrible awareness settle over me. It was quick and painful and reached into the very core of my being. I cried out with this terrible realisation and John shook me gently.
“Its alright Alison. Nothing will happen to you”.
Was this a promise or just words spoken to give me comfort? I suddenly realised this painful realisation was of my own mortality, how near death I was each and every day. It takes a death of someone close to realise just how vulnerable we all are. Our bodies are so frail, so weak. I was crying again. John was pulling me out of the hospital and bundling me into the car. I felt Alison sit beside me, her arms around me so tightly, not letting go for fear of losing me. John whispered some words to her and then closed the door to the car and we drove off.
I spun in my seat and looked at John who was gazing at me sadly. He blew me a tender kiss and then we disappeared around a corner and he was lost from view.
“Why isn’t John coming with us?” I cried in desperation.
“He needs to stay with Diana” Clarissa said softly, stroking the back of my hand with one of hers.
“Will he turn her into a vampire?” I asked.
Clarissa smiled and shook her head. “No my love. This life isn’t for her. It isn’t for any of you”.
I stiffened and drew away from her. She looked vaguely worried for a moment and then sighed and looked out of the window. “You will sleep in John’s room from now on. The entire wing will have to be redone” Clarissa said absently.
“What if there is another fire, or something happens to me? Would he save me?” I demanded, anger cleaving at my heart.
“No” Clarissa said simply. “It doesn’t work that way. We can’t just make everyone who drifts into our lives a vampire. The world would be mostly vampires if we did that”.
“I don’t understand” I muttered. Clarissa looked at me suddenly, directly. Her eyes reached into my soul and she smiled sadly.
“Nothing for you to worry about” Clarissa said softly. “Nothing, do you understand me?”
“Yes” I answered, being pulled into her eyes. She had the most stunning green eyes I had ever seen. Flashes of silver and blue flecked them and I felt deliciously peaceful. I felt tired suddenly, and relaxed into her arms. I fell asleep in her embrace, and my thoughts of dread quite simply evaporated from my mind.
When I awoke, I could hear John and Clarissa’s voices from the opposite room. I looked around myself, I was back in John’s massive bed, sprawled inelegantly under the covers. I listened to the conversation.
“She’s traumatised, John!!”
“Come now, Clarissa. We all are. She’ll be fine, I’ll see to that.”
“What, by making her a vampire too?”
“No, just a little blood to relax her. That won’t change a thing.”
“Give her a little and she’ll hunger for more. Give her pearls and she’ll want diamonds!!! She’s a woman, John. Damn it! You mustn’t do this!”
“Why are you so adamant, Clarissa? It’s not like I haven’t done this before. I know exactly what I am doing.”
“I don’t doubt that fact, John. But it is addictive, don’t you see? She’ll crave your blood like nothing she has ever craved before. She will live for your touch and your blood, she will desire nothing more. She will suffer a fate crueller than Elgin did!”
“Elgin was an exception to the rule!”
“I can’t believe you would say that! You know very well that isn’t the case ....Cole! Thank god! Maybe you can talk some sense into Mr-I-Must-Have-Everything!”
I heard a door slam, which I guessed was Clarissa leaving in a temper. Strange. I had never heard Clarissa so angry. I wondered what it was they were talking about.
“John, sit down and stop pacing!”
“Can’t you see I have a situation here?”
“I know. Its not a nice situation to be in, but you must think of the girl first!”
“I AM thinking of her!!! This would make her feel so much better!”
“No, John. You must not do this. She would become a slave to your power, wishing only to taste your special blood day and night. Would you have her as such? Unable to form a thought because your blood consumes her very reason to live, her very desire to exist?”
“No. Never. But how am I going to handle this then? Especially when she finds out Diana died, she’ll be heartbroken”.
A sudden sob wracked my body and immediately the voices became silent. The door to the bedroom was pushed open gently, and John and Cole entered.
“Ahhh, don’t cry,” John whispered softly against my ear, settling beside me and holding me close.
Cole glowered down at John, “Remember my words, don’t do anything that will harm her even more”. With that, he left us alone.
All I could think of were the dead girls, my friends. Beautiful Diana, killed. Stunning Haley returned to the ashes. I could hear Veronica and Sarah’s screams in my mind, and Lisa was sadly letting the fire consume her. I cried on John’s shoulder.
“Hush now. Everything that lives will die” John informed me. I had the distinct impression tact was not one of his stronger traits.
“I don’t want to die” I sobbed “Can’t you make me like yourself, so I can’t die? Please?”
John sighed and turned toward the door. It closed as John silently ordered it to do so. He pushed his face against my neck and sighed. “It would destroy you”.
“No, its what I need” I cried, pulling away from him and looking at him deeply.
John suddenly laughed. Without mockery or amusement, just tender pleasure. “Is that what you want? Are you really sure?”
I nodded, tears falling from my eyes. I was unable to stop them.
John smiled softly and leant forward, closing the distance between us silently and swiftly. His lips brushed my neck and I sighed in pleasure as I relaxed and awaited the vampire kiss. Finally, all indecision cast aside, John pierced my skin and I felt a warm torrent of my blood being sucked into him. At first, it was slightly painful and I gasped a little at the sudden intrusion. I arched forward and John moved closer to me, forcing me to remain still as his teeth quickly found the vein. As soon as the blood began to flow, the small pain subsided into a sensation that held me in thrall. Never had I felt such pleasure. It reached into the pores of my skin, and trickled through my body until I was purely pleasure. I was consumed with the passion, feeling it only intensify as if it would never end. This was heaven, and I was nothing. I lived only for this sensation and as I realised this I also discovered I was dying. Yes, dying. It felt so right that I should become part of him forever, the blood he was taking making me immortal. Let me die from this, I would die happy.
“You will be with me forever”
Was this voice inside my head? Had John withdrawn his fangs? I was unsure. The voice was distinct, however, and I was overwhelmed with pleasure and love so I wasn’t really bothered. I wanted to drown in this sensation, my entire body was made to die from this moment.
“John!!!” It was Cole. He was probably glaring at John with disapproval right now, but to be honest, I couldn’t give a damn. Nothing mattered at all except John and I.
John withdrew quickly, and a throbbing pain replaced the pleasure. I tried to open my eyes but my vision was a blur. I gave a strangled cry, and blindly reached out for John. I felt a cold hand clasp mine, and then I was being lifted.
I heard a soft hum from John and Cole, the sounds hushed conversation.
“You aren’t going through with this!” Cole demanded. “I’m a lot older than you. I’ve seen how badly this can go wrong! Please don’t do this!”
“She wants to be with me forever!”
“Oh, I see. This is her decision, right? I take it she’s completely happy with her physical appearance for eternity, is aware of the thirst and dietary necessities, knows the rules and limitations of her nature by heart?”
No answer. An awkward silence.
“You have thought this through completely, as I expected” Cole mocking John.
“Hold on a second!” John was angry. I felt a warm liquid invade my mouth. I swallowed quickly. It was rich and thick and the most potent liquid I’d ever drank. “She’ll die if I don’t replace some of the blood I’ve taken”
“She’ll wish she had with you as her vampire creator!”
“That’s a low blow, Cole. I have learnt a lot from the vampires I’ve made in the past.”
“Like Elgin?” Cole’s voice softened. “That was only two years ago, John. You need to learn to restrain yourself before you can even think of passing this on to others!”
My vision was clearing a little and I could see the hazy figures of John and Cole above me. Gasping a little, I glanced at John and saw the pain in his expression.
“He’s right my precious. I haven’t thought this out”. John’s eyes were red with his tears. “I am making a mistake. You are not ready.”
“I don’t want to die like that” I wailed “Not burned to death. Would you let me die?”
John took me gently by the shoulders and I felt his wrist against my mouth. Heaven’s liquid was flowing into my mouth and I pulled him closer to me, devouring each droplet hungrily. However, after a few moments he pulled back.
“No!!” I cried, clawing at him blindly.
“Enough!” He shook me gently, and I gazed at him fearfully.
“That will NOT happen to you! Do you understand me?”
I moaned and whimpered. The whole day had been a horrific blur.
“No” I choked, feeling my tears roll down my cheeks, dampening my blouse.
John had wrapped me in his arms, and I was calming down. Whimpering, but calming down.
Cole sighed and walked away again, in a fury, closing the door with his mind, which sent me into further hysterics.
Finally, John slapped my face.
I screamed, and thrashed in his arms.
“Stop it” John cried out.
But I couldn’t, wouldn’t.
I was too afraid, and he wasn’t helping me by being so blunt and brutal.
Finally, I felt his teeth sink into my neck and as I fell into the swoon, I heard his reassurances. I would be asleep soon. Not dead, just sleeping. Calm down.
I relaxed against him, feeling his slender body arch against me as I fell deeper and deeper into the swoon. I moaned with pleasure as his hand reached in between my legs and he started to caress my nether regions, feeling the pleasure flood into my whole body.
Softening, I let myself fall into a trance-like sleep. I could still sense him close. It was a reassuring presence, something completely non-threatening. I knew he would never hurt me.
Or let me die so horribly in a fire.
Warmth and tenderness. Arms holding me so near to his beating heart.
“Don’t .... let me .... die” I mumbled, and felt warm lips touch my forehead in a gentle kiss.
“So ... tired”
“You have had a tragic day. You and I both. Let’s put this behind us and start again”
“Why won’t you ....”
“Make you into one of us? Do you know what we really are”.
“Vampires” I mumbled, eyes closed, half conscious.
“That’s right. Do you know what that means? Becoming one of us?”
“Hmmmm, get to ... live forever”.
“That’s right. But, you will be dead anyway”
I began to panic again.
John’s hushed and soothing words confusing me, calming me.
“You would have to kill every night to maintain your existence. Cole is right. I generally do not think ahead which is why I make so many mistakes. Not this time. I will explain everything to you, and if you still want this, you shall have everything I can give”.
“Hmmmm” Soft soothing words. I felt so relaxed.
“Forever ....... do you know what eternity really means? Could you imagine seeing millennium after millennium pass you by? Seeing every development in human kind?”
I felt the hot, red liquid touch my lips and eagerly drank it up. Such taste! As if fire and light had been condensed into this life giving substance. To give it a physical taste, it was not the coppery taste of human blood. It tasted sweet, like strawberries and cream, absolutely delightful.
“But for now” He drew the covers to my nose. “You must sleep”.
“Yes .... sleep” I mumbled drowsily as I fell into a deep unconscious state of mind.
John never once brought immortality up again. Sensing a rather fragile reaction to the thought of eternity, he changed the subject if I brought it up. He kept me at an emotional distance, afraid of hurting me in some unforeseen way.
I also never worked with John again. Work and relationships just don’t mix. We were content merely to spend time together.
Years passed like this.
I was happy. I was content. It was thrilling to be the object of devotion to a vampire. The blood exchanges, the erotic nightly play, all thought of the horrors of years before faded entirely from my mind.
If I suddenly remembered one of the other girl’s faces, John would enthral me into oblivion and forgetfulness. If I became keenly aware of my mortality, John would smother me in affection and hush me in the gentlest way possible.
Those were the happiest years of my life.
Then I met Darren Priest, a tall man with a complexion even the angels would be envious if they saw him. I immediately felt an attraction to Darren, and Darren was obviously trying to court me.
Sensing a growing distance between us, John saw me less and less during the evenings as Darren and I fell slowly in love with each other.
“This is what you want?” John had asked me, one cold evening. I was tucked in his arms, he was gentle and there was no malice. He knew he could not warm me as human man could in his arms. He could make me writhe in passion in his arms, make me senseless with erotic pleasure, but he could not return the pleasure with the heat of his own.
“I’m not sure” I said truthfully. “But I don’t want to lose him”.
John had laughed and kissed me on the forehead. “Then go with it. See if you and he can spend a lifetime together. If not, you know where to find me”.
“I feel like I am betraying you” I said downcast.
John shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. I have lovers all over the world. If one of us has betrayed the other, it was I”.
I shook my head. John was making me miserable with his ill chosen words. He immediately changed the subject. For as he said “Mortal life is to short to worry it away”.
A week later Darren and I were engaged.
John was thrilled. Our marriage had his blessing. He was treating us to the most lavish and beautiful ceremony and reception we could ever have wanted. Honeymoon in the Caribbean, under the warm night skies. House already being built for our future. John had seen to it all.
Darren looked slightly uneasy as John talked with him the night before the wedding. I had been a little under the weather, feeling a little cold and nervous. My entire life was going to be devoted to this man. I was scared.
John had sat with him for a good four hours, speaking in hushed tones. Darren had looked frightened, and then he had warmed to John and smiled.
To digress from the current storyline, I have asked recently what John discussed with Darren. He was ensuring Darren would look after me, telling him what he would do to him if Darren ever hurt me in any way. Sweet but over the top. Totally John.
Within three months after the wedding, things had already started to go wrong between Darren and myself. The caring and sweet man I had known took to backhanding me whenever we got into a fight. I would often be bruised and once my head was almost split open with the ferocity of one of his mighty punches.
Of course, when John rang each night to find out how we were doing, I lied through my teeth about Darren’s unacceptable behaviour. I was afraid, afraid John would do something stupid and I would get hurt in the process.
It was one evening that Darren had left me with a swollen eye and a split lip that my saviour came to visit me.
Darren answered the door, surprised and dismayed to see John standing with Clarissa and James beside him. They had come bearing a houseplant and a bottle of wine.
“Can we come in?” John asked, beaming.
“Of course” Darren stammered, trying to think of a way out of this problem.
John breezed into the house, and called me down stairs. I ignored him. I was hastily trying to repair my appearance in the bathroom before John saw and understood what was happening between us.
However, trying to conceal a swollen eye and split lip is not an easy task at the best of times. I must have spent more than an hour trying without success to repair the damage Darren had caused.
Finally, I turned around resigned to the fact I was going to have to face John.
He was standing by the bathroom door.
Glowering at me. Arms folded.
My emotions, kept so severely in check, overwhelmed me and I dropped to the floor weeping.
Instantly, I was wrapped in two very strong arms. Strong arms that would never lay a finger on me, except in love.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” John asked, kissing my forehead as I sobbed in his arms.
I could form no real answer. I didn’t know. I had been frightened and alone for so long, I had forgotten the lifeline I had so many miles away.
Thunder in John’s violent eyes.
Anger in his entire expression.
He was extremely pissed off.
As he swept me into his arms, he walked downstairs with me whilst I begged him shamelessly not to hurt my husband.
“Its all my fault” I said helplessly.
That only made John angrier.
I would never forget that night.
Never forget what John did to Darren.
But in retrospect, I understand what he did was done for me and me alone. He was saving me from this monster Darren had become.
I awoke three days later in a soft, warm bed.
Silken sheets playing with my skin. Brushing past my body erotically.
I got up, rubbing my eyes and walked over to the bathroom, almost stumbling into the door.
Three days asleep.
The best sleep I had had in months. I felt safe.
A note left on the fireplace.
A bunch of red roses arranged on the small wooden table.
A bottle of chilled white wine in a bucket of ice by the bedside.
A welcome home card from the vampires of the household.
Chocolate spilling from an ivory bowl.
Suddenly, I began to cry. I remembered the events from three days ago as if they were burned into my memory.
I had been carried downstairs by John who had pushed me into Clarissa’s soft arms and immediately attacked Darren.
“John! What the hell are you doing!” James had yelled, before he noticed how bruised my face was. Then he understood. “Let him have it, John!”
“No” I struggled weakly to escape Clarissa’s arms. But she was holding me like a rare butterfly. She had cupped me in her arms, like you would a prized jewel, and had kept me enclosed and safe. Cool and pure. Arms like silk. Clarissa was a masterpiece.
John had shoved Darren against the wall. I heard bones cracking as he hit the wall with the speed of a puma, his body smashing like an eggshell. Blood oozed from his mouth, as his body twitched with the last of feeling before he became paralysed from the neck down. John held him there, watching Darren’s fear intensify and then bent and sucked all the life from him.
I had cried out in horror, burying my face in Clarissa’s blouse. When I tried to turn around, Clarissa kept me facing her with gentle hands, her words sweet and soothing as she tried to comfort me.
“Hush” John had said kindly as he took me from Clarissa’s arms and wrapped me in his own strong ones. “You are weak and tired. You need to sleep”.
I had fallen asleep moments after his gentle words had penetrated my confused thoughts. That was the last moment I remembered for three days. I stumbled over to the note and opened it hesitantly.
I have left you some refreshments in your room.
I know the events of your life have been traumatic. I can only guarantee your future from here. Maybe one day, these experiences you have suffered will have paved the way to the future you have always dreamed of.
I will join you tonight.
With much love,
John, James, Clarissa… and all your other immortal friends
I drank down the bottle of wine within ten minutes. Tears were running freely down my face. The whole room began to spin and I eventually lay down and fell asleep.
I murmured something incoherent, and then realised I was tucked between John and Clarissa, and I was half asleep. “Did I fall asleep again?”
John laughed lightly and kissed my forehead “I guess so. You’ve been out for some time”.
“Three days ...” I groaned.
“Things will be better from now on” John promised. “I swear it”.
Life was like a fairy tale from that moment on.
John made sure everything was perfect. My life seemed to be a blur of activity with John at my side.
The business, Fresher Enterprises, was flourishing. The vampire managers were running it efficiently without John, as he took care of me.
The other vampire managers still maintained the approach I had seen from the beginning. One vampire to a department with six women.
Yet, John gave up all his control to keep me entertained night after night. Year after year.
On the eve of my twenty-ninth birthday, John turned to me and asked me the most important question of my life.
“Will you join me in eternity?” John asked softly.
I smiled. He was so gentle, so perfect. “Yes”.
“Tomorrow evening, I will make you a vampire.” John said sweetly, caressing my body with his exploring hands. “During the day prepare your physical appearance to how you would like to be for all time. Then, on that night, you shall be mine forever.”
I nodded. I was afraid but powerfully excited. The dawn was close, and John had to leave me.
He kissed me gently and took his leave, a mischievous smile lighting his face before he disappeared to his hiding place.
That evening, I had dressed up in a pretty tight red dress, and I waited for John to arrive.
He arrived just after sunset, obviously not wanting to keep me waiting, he drifted into the room and sat on the chair facing mine.
Leaning forward, he took my shaking hands into his, and caressed my fingers.
“Are you ready?” John asked me gently.
I nodded. I was terrified andJohn immediately sensed this.
“What did you do today?” John asked me softly.
“Erm, I had my hair done, I trimmed my nails and shaved my legs. I also went out to a nice restaurant called The Amagetto along the Waterfront. Very nice”.
John smiled approvingly. “It won’t hurt. Your sense of fear seems to be most connected with the idea that this transformation will be painful”.
“I guess I’m scared that I won’t be able to handle it once I’m a vampire” I said, laughing nervously. “I’m scared that I will make a bad choice”.
John shook his head “Contrary to popular belief, I do choose future vampires with a certain amount of care and consideration. If I thought for one moment you couldn’t handle the change, you and I would not be sitting here”.
I gulped. I was afraid.
John rose to his feet, and took my hand. He quickly moved to the bed and watched as I lay down. My heart was beating wildly. I had never been so fearful in my entire life.
John lay on top of me, his eyes wild and animal-like.
“Are you ready?” John asked me.
Fearfully, I nodded my head.
“Then I’ll begin.”
With that, John dipped his head to my neck.
He entered me quickly and painlessly. The initial shock subsided into pleasure and I lay under him, writhing and shuddering. His lips were causing my body to spasm and orgasm so violently, I thought I would be ripped apart by the very ferocity of the loving.
Steadily, I felt myself weakening until I couldn’t move. I was so weak, I could barely keep my eyes open. Finally, after having fought to stare over his shoulder for a time, I surrendered and let myself open to him completely.
I felt him sigh into me as I slipped further and further from life. I felt time stop, and the beat of my heart was becoming slow and irregular.
John drew away suddenly and slashed at his own wrist. He lay the bleeding wound against my lips and I drew his blood from him, my eyes widening at the taste and power of it. He let me suck from him for some time and then drew his wrist away and turned my head into the pillow. I felt his hot shafts, already slick with my blood, slide into the wounds he had already made. I cried out as I felt myself weaken once again.
Again, after a short while, John drew away and gave his wrist to me. This time, he did not slash open a wound for me, but by that stage I knew what I had to do to gain immortality. My mortal teeth, stained with his blood, gnawed at his flesh until the vein was opened and his blood spilled into me.
He did not take the wrist from me again. Instead, he drew my wrist to his mouth and bit into the throbbing flesh. I continued to suck from him as he drank from me. Both of us connected in love and lust.
Time stopped. We merely continued this intimate embrace all night long and finally John drew back.
“Its almost dawn” John panted “We should bed down soon.”
“We have been drinking from each other all night?” I asked, amazed.
“All night” John confirmed. “You will be a complete vampire tomorrow night.”
I nodded in agreement and John lifted me from the bed and took me into the bathroom. He set me down gently as he ran a bath and lifted me into the sparkling and clear waters.
I felt strange. I didn’t feel really dead, just a little disorientated. My thoughts were confused and I was frightened. I didn’t really know what to expect, or whether the transformation was complete as it didn’t truly feel completed.
Finally, John lifted me out of the water and into a large towel. He dried me off and then tossed the towel into the wash-bin before carrying me back to the bedroom and snuggled me under the covers.
Then he lay beside me and cuddled up to me.
I lay, wrapped in his strong arms. We were naked against each other and my body felt suddenly so very different. As if I could reach to the stars and touch them. As if I could achieve my wildest dreams through a single thought.
I felt empowered, different.
I felt tired suddenly, so very tired. My eyes were closing and I could barely make out John’s slim profile and head through the foggy haze of sight, which was leaving me.
“John ...” I gasped. “I can’t see ... what’s happening ....”
“You are going to sleep,” John said gently. “Just let yourself drift. It’s easier that way. Good night, or good day”.
I laughed a little and then closed my eyes.
Within minutes I was in the most deepest and deathliest sleep I had ever experienced.
I awoke the next evening as a vampire.
My eyes opened and rested on his masculine frame before me. He had woken already, and was gazing down on me, his eyes full of love.
“Where are the bed sheets?” I asked, for we were both naked, sprawled on top of the bed.
“Must’ve kicked them off” John sniffed. “I’ve done that before”.
“Ah” I looked around myself at the room, and was shocked when I saw the endless vibrant colours, so much clearer than I had in mortal life, and the sound of John’s voice was delightful.
“What are we doing tonight?” I asked, loving the sound of my own voice.
“I will show you how to hunt” John said softly “Just in case you ever need to. With the company, the blood will always be available whenever you want it, but just in case it’s always good to know how to kill”.
“Is there anything you wish to ask of me?” John said “Anything your feeling you wish to question or discuss?”
I grinned and thought this over. It seemed an eternity ago that I had come to Fresher Enterprises in search of a career, and instead I had been given eternity and love for all time. It was bizarre.
“My senses are a lot clearer” I said softly. “I can hear many things, see much more and smell you too”.
“You smell me?” John said nervously. “Good I hope”.
I laughed. The sound was like bells ringing. “Actually, your smell stirs something in me. I would say lust but it is deeper than that”.
“Ah, its the blood” John said softly. “You wait till you smell a mortal’s blood. Then you’ll be literally having to hold yourself back in case you jump on them”.
I laughed again.
“Sounds intriguing” I winked at John. I had never felt so confident, so free.
John laughed and embraced me tightly. “It will certainly be an experience”.
I rubbed my hands together eagerly. I could hardly wait.
“For now, though...” John continued, his voice softening as he continued to gaze at me intently “... we have some time to ourselves. I want to love you”.
I sighed and felt John’s lips brush my throat, my breasts, my entire body. I closed my eyes and listened to the gentle noises he was making, the soft kissing noises I would never have heard when I was mortal, but sounded clear to me now.
I had finally discovered a lover who would treat me well for all time. Who would never let me go.
I was content. I was relaxed.
I was ready for eternity with John right by my side.
Satabda Chatterjee: Each and every charecter develops during the whole course of the journey and keeps secretly love for the princess . However the way that writter expressed each situatuons that the princess faced quite relevant and keeps the suspense always at the end of the chapter. . . .which makes the reader m...
Stephen Warner: To start off, I am thoroughly impressed. The writing style is somewhat unique, and the plot seemed to move at a nice and steady pace. However, I was not expecting this to be a vampire book! I am usually not one for novels about vampires, but I was pleasantly surprised! You wrote with such grace a...
Grapes Are Juicy yes!!!: I give this novel FIVE STARS ! This novel is worth reading from the beginning to the end! The plot and conflicts in this story are very smartly integrated. The language facility is a little odd , but i guess this was done on purpose, given the novel's set era. Other than that, this should definit...
catd69: Karim is a very talented writer. When I started reading his journey it took me into the book and I was in the story till the end. I've never felt this way with any other writers stories. If you want to read a gripping adventure, this will be the one book I would suggest you pick.
spec4huff: Thank you for creating this world. I am a 6'3" veteran that thinks himself tough. But the piece of literature you have created made me misty eyed on a number of occasions. I want a love like this. Thank you again, I would totally buy this book and hopefully the sequels to this ever enchanting lov...
matrixmark: I thought that the introduction to this was relly well written and structurally sound in its presentation.The introduction to the cabin in the woods was good too. To me, it felt like a Blair Witch of yesteryear, but the things which you added in about the mutilated boys were certainly something n...
rihannabkj2: Great story,I can hardly stop reading this novel. it shows that compassion and love can still exist after so many years between two persons. I most say well done to the Author who wrote this book. Others should read this book inorder to know that there can still be LOVE among two persons no matt...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
kwilliams: I am an avid reader, and I do mean AVID and few indie authors capture my attention the way you have. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and their story. I'm usually not a fan of the cliff hanger endings (be it a series or not), but this one made me download the Kindle app just so I c...
annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...
ahattar4096: The only part. Get annoyed of is how they ask soooooo many questions here and there and it just makes it a bit boring for me. Like so boring that even some I skip through and after I do it has nothing to do with what they will next talk about in the story. My opinion is tha mabye the questions th...
JONANNA: As an avid reader it is not often I say that about a book. The plot is what was different and the twists where unexpected. This book is defiantly a page turner and enjoyable read. I can't wait to reread this novel after a little editing to finish off the shine on this wonderful novel.
Hudson: Your story was fantastic Erin! The Rising Sun was one of the first stories I read on Inkitt, and I have to say I don't regret the three to four days I spent pouring through the story.Probably the biggest strength I see in your writing is your characterisation of Eliana, Oriens, and the rest of th...
OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...