It was now the weekend, and just as Mr. Courbet had ordered, Lucius took Elise out to Whitby. Elise had not yet received her bus pass, but she had a decent allowance she had saved while still at the orphanage to pay for her bus fare.
After her second night at Wintervale Manor, she could not stop thinking about the possible existence of vampires. However, her doubts and suspicions would sometimes subside when she spent time with Mr. Courbet. In the past two days, he had given her a tour of the grounds and the acres surrounding the manor. He had bought those acres of land over the years, with the intention of preserving its nature and wilderness.
Glancing at Lucius who sat beside her on the bus, Elise could not help but blush slightly. How could she not blush when she was near someone as handsome as Lucius? She had gotten accustomed to Mr. Courbet’s company, but would she be able to feel the same way with Lucius?
It was also Elise’s first time seeing Lucius in casual clothing. He wore a burgundy shirt with a black leather jacket, accompanied with faded, black ripped jeans and the same Dr. Martin style boots he wore with his school uniform.
“What are you looking at?” asked Lucius when he saw Elise gazing at him.
Elise jumped slightly when she saw him staring at her face intently. His tone was exactly the same when he had told her that he would never accept her as his father’s ward.
“It’s just my first time being with you,” she nervously replied. “Cause I don’t start school until next Monday, Mr. Courbet was my only company.”
“I see,” said Lucius, seemingly convinced. “Though keep in mind that I’m only taking you out as per my father’s orders. Nothing special.”
“But thank you for accompanying me,” said Elise. “I hope we can get along with each other.”
“I said it’s nothing special,” he said quietly. “Anyway, today we’ll explore the main town and I will show you the way to my school. Tomorrow, we’ll go to the rural areas.”
Elise nodded just as the bus arrived at the main station. Leaving the bus station, Elise followed behind Lucius closely. Walking through the town, she could not help but notice how he was attracting any teenage girl, or adult women that passed by them. His handsomeness was impossible to miss.
“What are you doing?” asked Lucius, pausing when he noticed Elise beginning to fall behind, “I don’t care about those women, they’re only interested in my looks.”
Elise quickly hurried closer to Lucius. For some unknown reason, she felt an odd sense of relief. Why did I suddenly feel so relieved when he said he showed no interest in those women. It was strange to think that she was falling hard for him already. She barely knew Lucius and was just beginning to become acquainted with him.
“You like art, right?” Lucius asked suddenly, “Father told me that you draw very well. So I think you’ll enjoy visiting Pannett Park Art Gallery.”
“I do,” replied Elise. “It’s one of the ways where I can truly express myself and drawing is also therapeutic. I can show you some of my drawings if you’d like. I always bring my sketchbook with me, because when an idea comes into my mind I quickly sketch it out so I won’t forget.”
“I see,” said Lucius. “I’d like to see some of them.”
As they crossed the Whitby Bridge to explore the other side of town, Elise’s ash blonde hair got caught in a passing breeze. Peering slightly over the side, Elise saw that there were boat tours down the River Esk. There was a lot more things to do in Whitby compared to County Durham.
In County Durham, the orphanage she had lived in for most of her life was situated just outside Barnard Castle. The only interesting places to her was the Bowes Museum, the Castle Market Place, and the ruins of Barnard Castle. It was refreshing for Elise, being in a seaside town with much more things to do, and attractions to visit.
Lucius showed Elise the infamous 199 Steps leading to the St. Mary Churchyard and the ruins of Whitby Abbey. He told her that she would be rewarded with a scenic view of the town once she reached the top. It was also tradition to count the steps up to a hundred and ninety-nine as she got higher and higher.
“The 199 steps and St. Mary’s Churchyard were used as one of the settings for Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel,” Lucius told Elise. “Stoker and his family stayed in Whitby at number 6 Royal Crescent which is one of the most prestigious addresses in the town. In the height of the Victorian Era, Whitby was one of England’s most popular resorts.”
Chills went down Elise’s spine. It was not because of the passing breezes, it was because of the mention of ‘Dracula’. Although she had not read the novel, she knew Dracula was a vampire who terrorised the townspeople of Whitby in an attempt to spread an undead curse.
“What’s wrong?” asked Lucius as he peered at Elise, “Are you perhaps scared of vampires? If not, there’s a Dracula Experience if you’re interested. I can even show you the spot where he attacked his very first victim. ”
“Of course not!” exclaimed Elise, “Vampires don’t exist! And anyway, Dracula is just a fictional character inspired by Vlad Tepes also known as ‘Vlad the Impaler’ who tortured his victims by impaling them on long wooden stakes!”
“If I told you that vampires were real,” said Lucius as he drew closer to her. “would you believe me?”
Elise blushed to see Lucius’s face quite close to hers. What is he trying to imply? She thought to herself. I haven’t told anyone about my dream yet, but why is he asking such a strange question? He’s probably just trying to play with me.
“Why would I believe in vampires?” scoffed Elise, “They’re just fictional characters for the sake of giving people a fright.”
“I see…” said Lucius, “It’s better that way.”
What kind of response was that? thought Elise, It’s as if he was hoping that I believed in vampires. Her thoughts were interrupted when Lucius informed her that he will now show her the way to the school.
The school was situated behind the hills where the ruins of Whitby Abbey stood. Behind the tall iron gates, stood the Our Lady of Sorrows Secondary School which resembled a gothic country house. Through the gates, Elise could make out the small towers and imitation battlements that decorated the exterior, and the gothic arches leading into the school grounds and gardens.
“The school was founded by a group of Slovakian nuns who pay homage to our so-called Lady of Sorrows,” explained Lucius. “They immigrated from Slovakia to England during World War II because of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime. However, the building itself dates back to the late-Victorian era.”
“What was it initially used for?” asked Elise out of interest.
“The school was once a country house that was owned by the Duchess of Ruswarp, Rosemary Beaumont,” replied Lucius. “She became a widow after her husband, Isadore Beaumont the eighth Duke of Ruswarp was killed during the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.”
“How did the nuns come to know about the duchess?” Elise then asked.
“The duchess was known for her philanthropist career and her support for the catholic church,” explained Lucius, “She allowed catholic groups to use the house for their retreats. When she heard about the nun’s situation, she invited them live at her house.”
“She sounds like Mr. Courbet!” exclaimed Elise, “Quite a charitable woman.”
“The duchess was unable to have children of her own, nor did she have any direct relatives, so she left everything to the nuns,” said Lucius. “After her death, they used the money from her will to turn the house into a school, now known as Our Lady of Sorrows Secondary School.”
“You really are smart Lucius!” said Elise who was very impressed, “I really cannot wait to start school here.”
“I wouldn’t say smart,” Lucius responded quietly. “I’ve just seen things come and go.”
“Excuse me?” asked Elise as she peered at Lucius’s face with a perplexed expression, “What did you mean by that?”
Lucius stiffened when he heard her question. How am I suppose to answer that? he panicked to himself. What if she eventually finds out what I really am?