Xavier sat in his office. There was no need to actually be in there today, he just wanted the solitude of the empty rooms. In his hand was a picture. It was very same one that he had taken with his phone. He had it printed out and framed shortly after taking it. He stared at the face of a sleeping Khryssa Hart.
With her was the small kitten that he had given her. So innocent and so beautiful he thought to himself. He was angry. So much so that he could feel the fury burning in the pit of his stomach. It wasn’t at Khryssa, it was at himself. He had no idea how to rectify what had happened. All Xavier knew was that he must do something very soon.
Putting the first picture down, he picked up another. It was a candid shot of him and Khryssa holding hands. It was the first photo of himself, ever. The change in him had been odd. It was quite unlike Harcard to lose control. He had not been starving himself, he had fed earlier in the week. Truly, he needed much less than anyone thought before he lost control. So what had happened?
Dr. Khryssa Hart sat in her home office typing out a letter of resignation. She was leaving her position at Harcard Industries as soon as she could. She could not believe what Xavier had done. Was there no being safe with him? Was he not the man that she had tried to believe that he was? She sighed softly. It had all been a ploy after all. At least a lesson was learned, she thought.
Finishing up the letter, she just stared at the computer screen for a while. The finishing touches had been added. The proof reading was done. Without a blink of dark eyes, the letter was emailed to Xavier Harcard with CCs to her own department. The BCC was added for the lawyers.
She had a 10 year contract with Harcard Industries. It would pay a reasonable amount in both salary and dividends. It wasn’t that she needed the money. Whatever Harcard Industries owed her would go into a trust fund for the scholarship program that she had set up years ago for the University of Texas. A printed copy of the letter was dropped in the mail. It was done. It was over. At least that part was, the ache in her chest would be there for a long time.
Calla sat on her lap. Stroking the kitten, Khryssa looked down at the little creature. Wondering what she was going to do with her. If she returned to the states, and that was the most likely option, she could bring Calla with her after getting the proper documentation.
It was the flight over that worried Khryssa. She wouldn’t have to be on a commercial flight, but still. Scratching the kitten behind the ear, she sat there silently for a while. Looking out the window, the day was winding down. She needed to leave.
Rising from the desk, Khryssa went to grab a jacket. Putting the kitten in her little bed, she thought about getting another kitten to keep Calla company. A turtleneck sweater was worn to hide the bruises on her throat. Outside into the crisp day, she started to walk to Papa Henrik’s home. She was supposed to have dinner there. Khryssa’s mood was too dark to actually have dinner with the family. This was just going to be a short social call.
A few people out walking noticed and recognized her. A mere nod was given, since she was lacking the desire for social niceties. Beautiful dark eyes were haunted with a searing pain. Long legged stride ate up the distance between homes quickly, and she arrived at her family’s domicile far too soon. Not bothering to knock, Khryssa opened the door and called out for her great-grandfather.
“I’m in the kitchen Khrys.” Henrik called back.
Walking towards the kitchen she removed her jacket and hung it up on the way in. Henrik was alone and making his famous schnitzel. She had to smile. Khryssa bent down and gave the older man a hug. He was quick to notice that something was not right with his niece.
“Khryssa, what is wrong?”
She shook her head. “It is nothing Papa I am just thinking about returning to either the States or back to London.”
She didn’t know what to say. Well Papa, I ignored your warnings and fell for Dracula. He tried to hurt me, so I am leaving. That didn’t sound like the best of plans. “I think I need to do something else for a while. Besides, Mom and Dad only get to come out here maybe once a year. I only get to go back to the States perhaps twice a year.”
He didn’t believe her. Henrik felt a certain amount of pride that his great-granddaughter wasn’t a very good liar. There was also the worry that something was terribly wrong. He surmised that it had to do with either her position or the person she was employed by. Henrik fixed two large mugs of coffee, knowing that his young charge would be out for a bit longer.
“Come, let us sit and talk for a bit Khrys. You look upset.” She started to protest but he held his hand up. “Enough, we shall figure this out.”
Obediently Khryssa walked beside Henrik and into the living area. They both took a seat on the sofa. She turned, to be able to speak face to face, and then took a sip of hot coffee.
“Really Papa it isn’t anything to worry about. I just need a break. I am nearly twenty seven years old now and I haven’t had a break worth a damn since I was twelve.” A smile was attempted, but it faltered. She reached a hand up and pulled her hair back out of the way. At the same time she did this, the neckline of the turtleneck moved just slightly. It put a livid bruise into view, even if it was just briefly.
“Khryssa Leigh! What happened to your neck?” Henrik was spot on, as usual. He pulled down the edge of the turtleneck to expose more bruising. Covering a great deal of her throat were livid purple and black bruises. The shape of fingers was unmistakable.
A silent curse was uttered. Reaching up to smooth the clothing back into place, she felt far too exposed. “It is nothing. I just had an accident.”
“That was no accident; I can see it plain as day. Who did this to you?”
“Papa, please it is nothing.”
She didn’t appear frightened, just unhappy he thought. Was she seeing someone and it went badly? Henrik touched her arm and felt the young woman stiffen. “Please Khrys, tell me.”
“Are you afraid of someone?”
She thought about the question. No, she wasn’t actually afraid of Xavier Harcard. Angry, most definitely she was angry. She was more afraid for Xavier if Henrik knew. Damnit, she thought, this was a bad idea coming over here. “No, I am not afraid of anyone. I just don’t need the publicity.” That was as close to the truth as she could come.
“You need to go to the police. He will do it again to someone else.”
“No, I can’t. Thank you for the invite for dinner, but I think I best be getting home.”
“Khrys listen to reason.”
“Really Papa, I can handle it. I’ve got to go.”
She grew angry at herself. She sounded like a damn victim. Hell, at this point she knew that the relationship she had with Xavier Harcard was abusive.
Giving her great-grandfather a hug and a kiss, Khryssa collected her things and disappeared out into the falling night. Taking the long way home, she wanted to walk. Absorbing the night with a restless mind, a tear fell down her cheek. It was the first time since the incident, in which she permitted any more tears to fall. Hugging the jacket tighter around her body, the walk continued through the dimly lit streets. There was a rustle of noise that caught the senses. She chose to ignore it and continued walking.
It wasn’t until she was grabbed and thrust further into the darkness with a hand heavy across her mouth did the fear burn through her veins. Khryssa’s mind turned and it was fight or flight. Since flight was impossible at this point, she fought her attacker valiantly. Teeth sunk into the hand of a man and it filled her mouth with blood. She could feel it slide down her throat while she tried to gasp for a breath.
“Enough Khryssa!” The voice hissed at her.
Eyes like the night sky widened in shock, mingling with fear. “Mmpfh!” It was the only sound she was able to make.
The man’s hand tore away from now blood stained lips. She knew that voice all too well. “Let me go Xavier!” Struggling in his arms, if she had a stake she would have used it.
His hand healed quickly even with the vicious bite that was left. Xavier drew them both further into the darkness. Once they were shadowed within the night’s embrace, he then pressed his lips to hers. She bit him savagely once more. She tore at his mouth with her teeth, breaking the skin. Trying to get away, she fought him with fist, teeth, and nails.
He backed away only to watch her pant with the adrenaline that spread through her blood. He then kissed her once more. Her delightful scent mingled with the taste of his blood. For Xavier the two combined were a heady drug. Pushing her back against a tree Xavier pinned her there. His eyes remained blue, though there was a hunger in the depths. He breathed deeply of the scent of blood and her.
“I can feel you Khryssa. I can feel you race through my blood.” The words were barely spoken above a whisper. Xavier was in awe of the feeling she had given him with just the small swallow of his blood.
“Get away from me Xavier.” She snarled, lips pulling back over bloodied teeth, looking even more of a predator than he did.
She smashed her fists into his chest. Over and over the blows rained down to no avail. Finally exhausted she slumped back against the tree. “Why? Why are you doing this Xavier?” She pleaded for an answer.
“You are mine my dear. That is why. I will not let you leave.”
Anger burned deep within her soul but Khryssa was too tired to fight him any longer. “I do not belong to you Xavier. I never have and I never will.”
“From the moment I laid eyes on you Khryssa you became mine. The first time we made love, your blood on my flesh sealed your fate. I will not let you go. I will permit you to leave me.”
“Then what will you do Xavier? Turn me against my will? Will you rape my soul? My body? Or is it just my blood that you want?” The words dripped with venom that she could not control.
“I. Want. All. Of. You.” Each word was a sentence within itself. “I would never turn you, not until you begged for it with your very heart and soul Khryssa Hart.”
“Let me go Xavier, please.” The words were laced with exhaustion even to her own ears.
“Once again Khryssa, I must decline.”
She closed her eyes, for many heartbeats. “I cannot do this Xavier. I simply cannot.”
Xavier stroked her face gently. “My dear girl, what happened the other night was a horrible accident. I need you to believe that. Come now, we are going.”
He wrapped his arms around her and picked her up. They disappeared into the nightfall. They reappeared within the sitting room of his home. He pressed her into his wing backed chair and knelt before her. Her lips were swollen from the kiss. They looked bruised.
Even with the bit of the fresh vampire blood that now circled within her veins, they did not heal right away. He had something to tell her. He needed her now more than ever. He looked upwards into her eyes. It was his way of apologizing.
“Khryssa, we need to talk.”
“Like I have a choice?” Her voice was like ice.
“I am sorry Khryssa. I never meant to harm you. I never meant to hurt you. You are so very precious to me. Please understand this.”
“Yes. Of course. That is what I have heard a thousand times over from men that beat their wives and I have to repair the physical damages.”
“Something happened when we were together that day after the opera. You remember the picture that was taken?”
“Yes, I remember.” Her tone was flat.
The words were rushed, in his excitement to tell her. “The photo of us holding hands is quite lovely. It is also a photo of us holding hands.”
“I don’t understand Xavier.”
“I am visible in the photograph!”
“How can that be? You are a vampire Xavier.”
“I realize this.” He said rather dryly. “I suspect it has something to do with you.”
“Me? How can-“She faltered and then resumed. “Xavier, I did not do anything.”
“It is not anything you specifically did my darling. It is you. You are immune to my gaze. You are beyond brilliant. You have some power that can make me appear once again. What are you?”
Confusion was written across lovely features. “I am merely human. There isn’t anything unusual about me.” Except my damned crazy taste in men, obviously.
Xavier leaned in and kissed her once more. His hands traced through her thick hair and down her shoulders. He touched her with reverence and with love.
After a few minutes, the kiss was finally returned to him. Full lips blossomed like a rose in the night. She could feel his fangs brushing across her searching tongue. It was she who pulled back first. Back against the chair Khryssa looked into his eyes.
“You have bruised my soul Xavier.” When he looked puzzled she spoke again. “You do not care for me. You only care what I can do for you.”
He began to protest. Khryssa rose from the chair and stepped around Xavier. Walking to the fireplace, she turned. Hands raised, palms outward, the motion to stop was given to the man before her. The visage of her basking in the glow of the fire was stunning. Xavier could feel himself craving her more than ever. He could also feel her fury still. It was a tangible brush across his skin.
“You wound me Xavier. You wound me completely and absolutely. I fell in love with you. Yes, love. I craved every inch of you. I wanted to know your life. I wanted to feel and see what you did. I wanted you and only you. Yet, that was not enough. You used me for your own gain. Yes, I know I was a mere possession to you. That is my fault. I knew it and I didn’t leave. Spare me this declaration of your desires Xavier. You need nothing except your wealth and to feed.”
There was an audible sigh that passed her lips. She turned again to face him.
“You loved me?” He had not been told that for so long. When it was said to him, it had no meaning. He had especially not heard such a declaration with the force of passion behind the words.
“Yes and you want me even now because I have been your face to the public eye. News conferences, public relations, and god only knows what else I have done for the name of Harcard Industries. I did this because you forced it upon me. I continued to do it because I gave a damn about you. Now with this revelation, with me you are able to be a public figure once again. You can do all of this yourself. I protected myself for over twenty-six years. I thought you were different. You were not. You were like all the rest. So if you will excuse me, I shall be going.”
Turning to leave, she half expected him to physically stop her. He did not. He did not move from the floor at all. His voice became a mere whisper.
She ignored the sound of her name and kept walking.
“Listen to me, please.”
She paused but did not turn around.
“Yes, I was selfish. Yes, I used you for my own gain, at first. But now? You are more important to me than my immortal life. I have never said that to another person before. Ever. I have loved two women. My wife when I was mortal. Now, there is you and only you. I have never loved anyone or anything as much as I love you’”
“Your words are sweet Xavier, but I do not believe you.”
“I am not good at this Khryssa, forgive me. You have thrown my world into an uproar and I do not know what to do. I cannot threaten you. I cannot charm you. For you I must be myself. I am not sure who that is anymore. When you are near me, I am not the same man.”
She turned then, to stare at him. “What?”
“I am Dracula, Khryssa. I am a vampire. I am not mortal nor have I been human for many centuries. I am not used to these human emotions that you have rekindled in me. I fear harming you worse than I already have. I do not wish to do that. I do not wish to harm you at all.” Xavier’s voice was choked. "I do not know what I am doing or how I am supposed to be. All I know is that I love you."
He rose to his feet and closed the distance between them. It took him but a moment in time to sweep her into his arms. He rested his cheek against her softer one. Xavier whispered in her ear so very softly it was almost inaudible.
“Forgive me please, my love. I once had to learn how to survive as a vampire. Now? Now I have to learn how to be a man once again.”
Khryssa had no idea what to say. She wanted to believe him. She needed his words to be true. There still was that twist of being hurt that made the doubt spring to life. Closing her eyes, she sighed.
“I do. I do forgive you Xavier.”
“Say it again for me.”
“Yes, please, again.”
She couldn’t help but chuckle and not understanding what was so special about those two little words. “I do.”
He slid down her body. Once again he was at her feet. Down on one knee, Xavier took her hand within his own. Out of a pocket was drawn something. He looked up to her and offered a gift. The time that he spent in that exclusive little shop in the market district ended in a purchase. It had been brought to him earlier that day. A beautiful engagement ring rested in Xavier’s hands.
“Marry me please? Marry me Khryssa Hart. I want you to be my wife.”