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Veronica Wilde
October 1st, 2008, 10:14 PM
Hi everyone, in the spirit of Halloween (yes, I know I'm 30 days early) I am going to post serialized bits of a short story called Crypt Queen... A story that involves a vampire queen's heartbreak and love that lasts beyond the grave.

Part I:



1. Halloween

St. Catherine’s Cemetery was still in the October moonlight. The tombstones glowed bluish in the pale lunar light as the occasional dead leaf skittered across the base of a monument. Then a stone scraping broke the silence as the heavy door of a mausoleum was pushed open.

Pausing within her tomb, Natasha sniffed the cold autumn night. For the first time in almost a year, the intoxicating scent of dead leaves, bonfire smoke and apples filled her nose. A poignant nostalgia rushed through her finely honed vampire senses. Last November, heartbroken with grief, she had locked herself in her mausoleum for a long sleep. It was a hibernation intended to forget the pain of losing the love of her very long life. Yet now the October wind reminded her sharply of his death last autumn.

She had only lived twenty-six years as a human before a lascivious vampire inducted her into the world of the undead. In the three-hundred-odd years since then, she had become Queen of her region and had known many seasons, many loves. But none of them could compare to the memory filling her now – the memory of her lost Jonathan and their exquisite seven years together.

It had been one year exactly since he died. One year since his murder on Halloween, driving her to leave her home and empire and retire here to her crypt. She no longer wanted to go on in a world without him. All of the pleasures she enjoyed as a vampire – wealth, freedom, beautiful and willing victims – tasted empty and flat without him. Despite her long rule over her city as the reigning vampire queen, she had sought the mercy of sleep instead.

Before doing so, she had made arrangements with her faithful assistant, Monica, to awaken her on this Halloween. Monica had done so by feeding her sleeping corpse with blood over the recent nights until she, Natasha, regained her vitality. Now it was October 31 and she was ready to reenter the world she had abandoned. As the reigning queen, one year was as long as she could afford to be away from her throne. Surely by now her memory of Jonathan, her voracious need for him, would have dimmed.

Instead the scent of wine and smoke brought back the memory of his beautiful body in a heartbreaking rush.

From a great distance she could hear the laughter and shrieks of trick and treaters. The music of Halloween parties and the breaking glass of vandals echoed through the dark. Normally she loved Halloween. It was the one night she felt the human world and the vampire world came together in a wondrous celebration of all that was macabre. Sometimes she permitted herself the amusing treat of appearing in the dark, letting her white skin and pale eyes transfix a passing human before smiling with her fangs exposed. No doubt the shaken witnesses always convinced themselves it was a costume they had seen… a very good costume.

She shook herself. Never mind that. She needed to put her reminisces behind her and attend to business. The Vampire Ball was tonight; she needed to make an appearance to remind everyone that her rule still held.

Her delicate heel descended into dry leaves. Only a thin black gossamer gown cloaked her voluptuous body but she wasn’t cold in the October chill. Her pale skin was tinged with silver in the starlight; her crystal blue eyes gleamed through the dark. At last she spoke.

“I know you’ve been waiting for me. Show yourselves.”

The cemetery went silent as even the breeze stilled. Then slowly, pale forms emerged from behind tombstones and oak trees. Natasha’s eyes narrowed with validation as several dozen vampires manifested before her. Their hungry, anxious faces glimmered like small moons in the dark.

A confident smile unfurled across her beautiful face. “How loyal you all are,” she greeted her acolytes. “I know, of course, that the only reason you’ve been awaiting my emergence is your eagerness to share the holiday with me – and not because you doubted I would awaken tonight.”

All of the faces before her turned tense with fear. She was a fair queen and a compassionate queen, but she ruled with an iron fist when she needed to. Many of the local vampires – if not all – feared her.

She swept her long brown hair to the side and smiled more genuinely. “Here I am,” she said. “I may be in mourning, my friends, but Halloween is the season of mourning, isn’t it?.... Or so it used to be.” She stepped forward and was rewarded with the approach of Monica, her assistant. “Monica,” she said. “Is everything ready for tonight?”

Monica bowed her head. “Everything is waiting for you, Natasha. Your home, your business affairs – everything is in order.”

“We are glad to have you back, my Queen.” A thin but determined voice spoke up from the back.

“Yes… very glad. We have missed you.”

“The Vampire Ball wouldn’t be the same without you.”

On and on went the welcomes and good wishes. Natasha had been missed; she heard the sincerity in their voices. Bloody tears prickled her eyes but she refused to show them. She was their queen and she had her pride. She turned to Monica.

“I will review my affairs tomorrow night – tonight is for the festivities,” she said. In truth she didn’t feel at all like celebrating but she couldn’t show her broken heart to her people. She needed to show that she was as powerful and composed as ever. “Monica, take me to feed…. I am sure you have lined up a choice meal for the night. Then we will join the others at the Ball.”

Minutes later she was riding through the city in a long black limousine, her fangs buried in the neck of a tender young man. He was just nineteen, with silky platinum hair that tickled her face as she drank. His heavy sighs of appreciation as she sucked his blood were music to her ears. Lovingly she stroked the hard muscles of his thighs. Yes, he was beautiful. She had known Monica would procure a gorgeous voluntary specimen for her first meal. Yet she wasn’t ready for anything beyond drinking. Appetizing as this boy might be, her body still longed for Jonathan. Only Jonathan would do – his hands on her breasts, his cock moving inside her…

To be continued.

Dani
October 1st, 2008, 11:02 PM
This is excellent! :huepfen017:

I think I've seen this before somewhere. Has this been previously released (like for your newsletter subscribers or something like that)?

Catherine Bybee
October 1st, 2008, 11:52 PM
More please... More, more, more!

CharmedGirl
October 1st, 2008, 11:55 PM
Wow this sounds great.

Veronica Wilde
October 3rd, 2008, 09:50 PM
Part II:


Natasha stiffened and pushed the boy away, no longer thirsty.

He gazed at her with lovesick eyes and reached for her. “Did I not please you?” he murmured, but she pushed his hands away and stared forlornly out the limousine window.

Then she noticed the limousine was turning up an oak-lined avenue. This was not the way to the party. This was the way to her home.

“I have a surprise for you,” Monica promised, a smile gracing her lips. “Unless you absolutely must attend the Ball this moment.”

“No. No, it would be good to see home.”

Actually it would probably be hell on earth, given that this was the scene of her most loving memories. This was where she had lived with Jonathan for the seven years of their relationship. From the night she had found him as a sweet eighteen-year-old schoolboy, he had lived with her in this palatial old home framed by weeping willow trees and lush gardens. He had never left, not for a night. Slowly she had taught the schoolboy to become a man. Slowly she had revealed her true nature to him, her secrets that were so rarely shared with any mortal. And for seven years, they had been the happiest people on earth.

Then a rival for her throne, bitter at having failed to unseat her, had slain him last October just before dawn when she had already retired to her coffin.

Natasha closed her eyes with the pain. To find true love after three centuries of a largely meaningless existence, only to have it stolen from her so brutally, was beyond endurable. She squeezed bloody tears from her eyes, wondering if she had emerged from her crypt too soon. The grief was as fresh and sharp as if she had discovered Jonathan's drained and crumpled body five minutes ago.

In the initial decades of her afterlife, she had been enthralled with her new powers as a vampire. Her beauty and youth, never fading, opened doors to any society she wished to visit. From the most beautiful men to the most exquisite art to the most expensive dresses, the years had passed in a satisfying indulgence of every shallow delight she chose. Yet gradually the pleasure of such indulgences had paled. Gradually she had grown weary and sick of the world. As decades passed into centuries, many of her oldest friends disappeared. Some went into their coffins to sleep eternally; others, no longer able to bear the tedium of immortality, went into the sun to burn themselves into oblivion.

For that was the true quest of her endless life: to find a meaning for existence. Holding her throne, ruling the other vampires, was effortless compared to her constant search for excitement. For years, she had been existing in duty only, convinced that nothing would ever fascinate or engage her again. Then one night, wandering the quiet leaf-strewn streets of a wealthy neighborhood, she had seen him passing under a streetlight: a beautiful boy with tousled brown curls and the face of an angel.

She had stepped forward from the dark, knowing her gleaming pale face would mark her as no ordinary woman. Yet the boy was unafraid, only infatuated.

"Take me," he had whispered that night as they made love over and over in her bed. His muscles had strained so fetchingly as he held her against him, driving into her with all of his eighteen-year-old passion. "Make me yours. Yours totally."

It was as if he instinctively knew her true nature. Yet she made sure he was completely and utterly sexually enthralled before she slowly inducted him into her dark knowledge. It hadn't mattered. He was hers anyhow. And she was his.

Natasha discreetly wiped her tears as the limo pulled into the long avenue leading to her home. How many nights had they returned home just like this from the ballet or a sumptuous party? That had been the worst part of those nights after his death last autumn; drifting through her home alone until dawn. That maddening solitude was what had finally driven her to the refuge of her cemetery crypt.

Still she looked up at her beautiful house with appreciation. She had spent the better part of a century filling her home with lavish antiques and cultivating its magnificent garden. Now it looked as regal and majestic as ever in the autumn moonlight.

Then she spotted half a dozen cars parked in its circular drive.

sabby07
October 4th, 2008, 12:42 PM
Very nice! Sounds great!

Veronica Wilde
October 8th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Part III.

"No," Monica said tersely. "Impossible. I told everyone to stand back tonight."

Natasha sighed. Her first night back from the crypt and already vampires were lined up waiting for her favors, her decisions, her attentions. How typical. All of her people claimed to worship her; yet really they gave not a thought to her happiness, her well-being. To them she was simply a service to be used.

She composed herself to look commanding as she emerged from the limo.

Monica charged ahead of her, stiff with fury. "What's going on?" she hissed at the emerging servant. "I told you expressly that only one person was allowed here tonight."

One person? Natasha's curiosity was piqued. Yet she forgot about it as she moved into a room full of waiting vampires. All of them stumbled over their words as they told her how beautiful she looked, how much they'd longed for her return. Empty flattery, she thought. They'd say anything to get my favor.

Then her eyes fell on the portraits in the parlor.

Jonathan. There he waited in a line of handsome frames, still somewhat shy at eighteen, adorably boyish at nineteen, looking pensive at twenty, then confident at twenty-one. Each year he had grown more gorgeous until that final portrait at twenty-five. The piercing challenge of his dark eyes, the firm set of his square jaw and those exquisite lips that her fangs had pierced in abandoned passion so many times.... She felt herself grow weak with desire and grief and quickly left the room.

“Natasha! Wait! Natasha, please...”

Their pleas faded from her ears as a deeper voice cut through the noise.

“Well, well, well. Look who finally crawled out of the dirt.”

White-hot fury spread through her as she turned to face Jonathan’s murderer.

Frankie had died as a seventeen-year-old hoodlum in 1957. That made him a newcomer among vampires in her opinion, though he considered himself a natural leader. He dressed in the same leather jacket and jeans he’d worn in life, his black hair combed in a ducktail. If this made him conspicuous among the living, he didn’t care. Humans were just meat, he always said. A meal, a weak species, nothing more. She’d been a fool to fall in love with one.

His pale eyes danced with glee now. “You look good, Natasha. Drinking the blood of cemetery rats must agree with you.”

She arched an eyebrow, determined to stay cool. She would have her revenge on Frankie, she’d always known that, but it would be a revenge that was executed masterfully, not rashly. “Would you suggest I try the blood of your grandchildren, Frankie?”

His face contorted with fury. Frankie didn’t have the control she did. “You can’t do that, Natasha. It’s forbidden.”

She shrugged gracefully. Frankie was correct in that most vampires observed it as a matter of etiquette, if not policy: no dining on the living family members of new vampires. Frankie had impregnated an unlucky teenage girl shortly before his death and the resulting son was now middle-aged, with children of his own. Though she had no wish to taste his revolting bloodline, they were an effective tool for keeping him in line.

“I am the Queen,” she said with an arrogant smile. “I can do whatever I like.”

He glared at her. “That stupid pup of yours was a mongrel, nothing more. It’s ridiculous how upset you got over his death.”

She walked up close to him and stared into his eyes. “You’re just jealous that he had me in a way you never, ever will. But Jonathan was ten times the man you are, Frankie.”

His body trembled with the desire to strike her – she saw it. Instead he willed himself still. “Don’t flatter yourself. I only made a pass at you for something to do.”

She smiled, unfooled. “Please, Frankie. You’ve wanted my body as well as my throne since you stumbled out of the city morgue. And you’ll never have either.” She waved a hand of dismissal in his face. “Be gone. I must prepare for the Vampire Ball.”

And your demise, she added silently as she swept away. But it wouldn’t do to warn Frankie of how soon she would take her revenge. Better to let him think she had simply recovered from the death of her only true love.

As she rejoined the parlor, a dozen vampires rushed to her with their complaints. As she expected, most of them were recently dead. One wanted to bring over her sister, now dying of cancer. One wanted absolution for a public drinking. Others wanted to introduce her to young and nubile humans; from the photos thrust under her nose, she could see they were all Jonathan look-alikes. No doubt they considered this a clever way to ingratiate themselves with her.

She swept everyone from the parlor. So sick of this, she was, all the politics and endless complaints and groveling. “No business tonight,” she kept repeating. “Tonight is for fun. It’s Halloween. I’ll see you at the Ball. Go on, have fun!”

At last the first floor was empty. Wearily she turned and looked at the winding staircase leading up to her bedroom, where memories of Jonathan were the most intense. Could she really face more pain tonight?


Monica appeared at the top of the stairs. “I have a surprise for you,” she said with a smile. She beckoned her up. “Come.”

Dutifully Natasha ascended the stairs. Yes, there was her bedroom door, partially ajar to show the dance of candle flames. She walked inside to find a small old woman hunched over a table. What was going on?

“Eda is a necromancer,” Monica said. “I’ve searched everywhere for the last year to bring you this gift, Natasha. Eda is the best I’ve found. Tonight – for Halloween only – she can bring you your heart’s desire.”

Natasha stared emptily at her. “My heart’s desire is dead, Monica.”

“But tonight he will live,” the old crone crackled. She waved her hand over a tray of powders, roots and potions. “Sit, my dear, and tell me of your beloved. Relive your love as I work my magic and he will live tonight once more.”

Mad. Both Monica and this old crone were mad. But Natasha sank tiredly into the velvet-cushioned chair and began to dream of Jonathan. It wasn’t as if anything else could fill her thoughts. She allowed herself to succumb to the memories of his elegant long fingers, his thick soft hair in her hands, and the hardness of his young thighs spreading wide for her. Her heart throbbed with nostalgia and longing as she remembered the brightness of his smile flashing in the dark.

From somewhere deep in the house, a grandfather clock struck <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:time w:st="on" Hour="0" Minute="0">midnight</st1:time>.

hollie
October 8th, 2008, 11:12 AM
that is reallly good

Veronica Wilde
October 10th, 2008, 09:26 PM
Part IV:

The memories, achingly physical, swam through her body. So real. It was almost as if his hands were caressing her knees, gently spreading them as he had so many nights in the past. "I want to see all of you," he would whisper and she would understand that he ached to see her naked and spread before him like a sumptuous banquet. Amazing that despite so many past lovers, no man had ever made her feel so deliciously exposed and vulnerable as Jonathan.

She dropped her head as those magic phantom fingers stroked her silky brown hair and the back of her neck. Yes, it was his touch, as familiar as her own face. She was going as mad as this old necromancer to hallucinate him so clearly... Then his hands slipped to caress her breasts and she knew, trembling as he brushed her nipples, that this was no hallucination.

She opened her eyes and gazed into that handsome, beloved face that had been her dearest sight.

Another violent pang of longing shuddered through her. "No," she whispered. "It's a trick. A Halloween conjuration."

"No trick," Jonathan answered confidently. "It's me, Natasha. Body and soul."

He swept her into his arms with a groan of gratitude and longing. For one anguished moment she battled the feeling of relief and emotion sweeping her. It couldn't be him, it couldn't. Jonathan was dead. But the strength of his arms, even the familiar way his narrow hips meshed against her, was unmistakable. Her senses swam with the physical reality of him - his voice, his skin, his masculine hardness.

Monica and the necromancer discreetly left the room as she gave way to sobs. She had longed for his touch for so long. To have him return from the grave was her wildest dream – and now her dream had come true. Loving him once more would only reawaken the hell of her grief tomorrow but she didn't care. Tonight was her last chance to hold him in her arms and tell him how much she truly adored him. Her last chance to make love to him with all of her power and passion.

"Shush," he consoled her. "I've missed you too, Natasha, but we can't spend this night in recriminations."

"Missed me?" She raised her tearstained face to his. "How can you miss me when you're dead?"

He smiled, that impish smile that had once greeted her every twilight. "Being dead only means I am dead to this world, Natasha. In my world, I still live, think, feel. Only here am I a ghost." He gestured around her lavish bedroom. "I watched you sob at my funeral and I tried to hug you, but you couldn't feel me. So many nights I've stood by your body in the crypt, desperately trying to wake you up. But you couldn't hear me."

She frowned. For centuries she had thought of herself as one of the supernatural elite, someone who knew occult secrets humans could only guess at. Now she was learning of an existence beyond the grave that was entirely foreign to her. It was unsettling. "So you're .... happy," she said slowly.

"No." He shook his tousled head. "I have freedom I never dreamed of now, the ability to travel and explore and visit wondrous places. But without you I could never be happy." He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. The familiar feel of his silky mouth brushing her skin ignited a flame inside her. "You are my life in this world and the next," he said, his dark eyes burning into hers.

Fresh bloody tears filled her beautiful eyes. "I only want to be with you," she said. "And now that can never happen."

He paused. "Each Halloween I can return to you," he said hesitantly.

"One night a year?" she cried. "That's unbearable!"

"Hush..." His hands and mouth traveled over her body, quieting her sobs. "We only have an hour or two before I dematerialize. We'll cry when we're apart... but now that we're together, we should make each other happy."

A thrilling fire raced through her as his talented fingers slipped between her legs.

CharmedGirl
October 11th, 2008, 02:39 AM
Parts II, III and IV are awesome Veronica.

candaceclayton
October 11th, 2008, 07:27 PM
Wow! What a sad and intriguing tale!

Candace

Veronica Wilde
October 12th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Part V.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Their ageless connection flared back to life like a roaring fire, awakening her nerves and filling her with a demanding sexual hunger. As he stroked her clit, she groaned into his neck, reveling in that intoxicating smell of his skin and blood. He was as alive tonight as he had ever been, and she needed to consume every inch of his gorgeous body. Mindless of her strength, she pushed him down on her bed.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

He laughed with delight, not minding in the least her ability to overpower him. Almost ravenous with lust, she straddled him and arched her back, reveling in the feel of his hands on her breasts. With a muffled cry, he tore her gossamer gown from her body and tossed it aside. Naked, she pressed herself against the swelling bulge in his pants, rocking back and forth until he groaned.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“I’ve ached for you so many nights…” he muttered.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

She tore off his clothes easily, in a moment. At last he was naked and warm beneath her, all six luscious feet of him. She stroked his hair, the sensitive curve of his ears, his masculine jaw. Jonathan had always been the perfect work of art to her. There wasn’t an inch of his body that she didn’t find sexy.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha trailed her fingertips down his chest. She was growing wet and she knew she couldn’t afford to explore him much longer. The rock-hard length of his cock was already seeking her entrance. Biting her lip, she positioned herself over him.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“God yes…” he breathed. His engorged head pushed into her tightness like a heat-seeking missile, sliding into her wet, clinging walls.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha cried out with a gasp of passion. Always this moment that he first entered her felt too good to endure. She balanced herself on his hard chest and rocked herself back and forth on his cock, riding him with that perfect rhythm that drove both of them into a frenzy. In response he thrust into her with athletic flexibility, bouncing her on his hips. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha let out a howl of pure pleasure as their former lust raged like a fire between them. Hungrily Jonathan played with her nipples, stoking the fire within her. She wanted this ecstasy to last forever between them and yet she knew it was temporary, her last chance for bliss with the love of her life. Suddenly Jonathan pulled away from her and slid behind her.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“Bend over,” he commanded.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Eagerly she obeyed. Natasha had always loved being taken from behind. Somehow it felt so deliciously naughty as she bent over the bed and spread her thighs, knowing he could see all of her at this angle. Taking his cock in hand, Jonathan traced her delicate wet folds with his head, slowly rubbing her clit until she moaned. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“Fuck me,” she whispered desperately. “I can’t wait anymore.”<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

In answer, he slowly drove deep into her pussy. Natasha groaned, clutching the bedsheets as white-hot lust swept her body. Holding her breasts in his hands, he pumped into her with a maddening rhythm, working in and out with her with frustrating slowness. She wiggled her hips against him, wordlessly beseeching him for more. Yet he held her fast, driving in and out of her until she thought she would die from need.

“Faster,” she begged hoarsely, “harder.” He pinched her nipples in admonishment and continued his leisurely pace.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

The wet heat in her pussy swelled into a wildfire. Desperately she tried to rock back and forth on his cock but he held her tight. Gradually he altered his pace, thrusting faster. Now the wildfire inside her was spreading through her body like electricity. Every inch of her skin tingled with lust as he fucked her faster and faster, until his cock moved in and out of her at lightning speed.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“Oh God,” she gasped. A sudden, violent series of spasms erupted inside her, clenching around his shaft. Her orgasm broke inside her like a storm, wracking her entire body as he erupted in his own pleasure. His cum drenched her thighs as they collapsed on the bed, drained with bliss.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

She wanted to close her eyes and drowse with satisfaction. Instead she forced herself to be alert. She couldn’t waste a moment of this night. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“I can’t bear to be without you,” Jonathan whispered, his throat tight.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha traced his upper lip, marveling at his perfection. In their short seven years together, she had never tired of his hard, young body. Knowing now she wouldn't experience its joys for another year made her heart clench with anguish.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

His dark eyes regarded her with both pain and happiness. "I mean it, Natasha. I’ll never stop loving you, no matter how long I’m dead and how long you reign."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

His voice sounded faint. She sat up in alarm as she noticed the lines of his face becoming indistinct. "Jonathan... No... Not yet. I need to talk to you, hold you again."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"What's wrong?" He reached for her in panic. His hand sliced through her waist. "Oh no. It's too soon."

But he was fading before her eyes. Horrible sobs overtook her as her beautiful man turned transparent. "Jonathan, wait. I'll always love you. Come back to me!"<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"I'll always be around you, even if you can't see me." His voice was the barest hint of a whisper. "... try to find a way to communicate.... I love you so much..."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Then he was gone.

Veronica Wilde
October 15th, 2008, 01:20 AM
Part VI.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha burst into heartrending sobs. No, he couldn't be gone so soon. She had held him so briefly. It was too cruel, tasting the beauty and heat of his body again only to lose him to the grave for the next year.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

She wept until the sheets were pink with her tears.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

A soft knock sounded on the door. She looked up. "Come in."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Monica tentatively entered the bedroom. "I heard you crying. Did he dematerialize already?"<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha nodded miserably. "It was too soon. Oh Monica, what will I do without him? He was my world."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"The necromancer said she would assist you next Halloween as well," Monica promised. "I know it isn't much, Natasha, but at least it's something. Are you sorry I brought him back? Was it too painful?"<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha shook her head. "No. Yes. I don't know. At least I know he's not totally dead and gone - he's just in a different world, so to speak. That's something." She brushed her tears away with a strand of her long brown hair. "He said he was around me all the time. It's maddening that he's so close, and yet I can't perceive him."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"It's probably worse for him," Monica pointed out. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"True." Natasha sighed. "I'm returning to the crypt, Monica. You can handle the Vampire Ball for me. You've handled everything else to perfection while I was gone," she added.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"Natasha, no! Everyone is expecting to see you tonight. You must reassure everyone that you returned from the crypt to rule as you said you would."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha pulled a face. She knew it was childish but at that moment she only wanted to rebel against all of her queenly duties. What service did she really provide that was so crucial? The other vampires listened to her and respected her decisions in their arbitrations. Yet obviously they respected Monica just as much, since chaos hadn't broken out during her year underground. It was even possible that they wouldn't respect Natasha anymore since she had taken to her crypt over a human they regarded as a walking snack.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

"If I must," she said. <O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

“You must,” Monica said firmly. “Besides – you have Frankie to contend with. Don’t you remember our plans?”<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Natasha sighed. “I do. Help me pick out a dress."<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

An hour later she stood resplendent in a black lace gown at the Ball. She had never looked better or fresher, thanks to another long thirsty drink in the limo. And her vampires seemed genuinely glad to see her. All the same, she couldn't find a single person or subject to truly engage her attention. A year in the crypt and already everything seemed old hat. The Vampire Ball with its nubile supplicants and glittering blood-drinkers was just a rehash of every other Ball she had presided over. She accepted gifts and compliments, drank from many willing victims.

Yet all the while she was wondering if Jonathan's ghost was beside her. Was he watching her, longing for her even as she listened to the band and promised favors? How odd that the one person who truly understood her was unreachable. At the same time, she was surrounded by people who only saw her as a source of tremendous power - people who admired or resented her as a result.<O:p</O:p
<O:p</O:p

Even seeking revenge on Frankie was no longer the pressing desire it had been. He watched her all night long with both desire and hatred burning in his eyes. She knew what he was thinking; that he had gotten away with killing Jonathan. That she was weak to love a human so desperately and that he could still stage another coup to steal her throne. Yes, Frankie was a menace but she would deal with him out of justice, not petty violence.

She smiled and beckoned him forward.<O:p</O:p

candaceclayton
October 15th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Well done! Looking forward to readinghow Natasha deals with Frankie.

Candace

Veronica Wilde
October 17th, 2008, 10:43 PM
Part VII.<O:p</O:p
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He was at her side in a moment. “Yes, my Queen?”<O:p</O:p
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He pronounced Queen with a nasty sarcasm. She ignored it and stroked his cheek. “I don’t want to argue with you. You’re right; I was a fool to become so besotted with a human. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to my throne.”<O:p</O:p
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His eyes were confused now. Oh, it was too easy to fool the young vampires. He simply had no idea of the tricks she’d learned in three hundred years. “Many of the vampires think I would rule well."<O:p</O:p
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She pretended to consider that. “Perhaps you could adopt an advisory rule, Frankie. A co-ruler, if you will.” She tilted her head toward the front of the room. “Come. I’m going to make the announcement.”
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She silenced the band. As the music disappeared and silence fell over the ballroom, every vampire turned their eyes to her. Some watched her with reverence, others with lust, and still others with malice. It no longer mattered to her. She smiled brilliantly.<O:p</O:p
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“You all know that Frankie has wanted my throne for years,” she said. “So unhappy was he at not attaining it last year that he killed my lover.”

The vampires tittered uneasily.

“Well, tonight, I am going to put the past behind us,” she said. She turned toward Frankie with a wide smile as powerful and large-muscled vampires came at him from each direction. One wheeled forth a massive coffin. “Instead we will look to the future. Your very grim future.”<O:p</O:p
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Frankie opened his mouth and began to scream as the other vampires wrestled him into the coffin and chained him within. A human servant adorned the coffin with crosses and sprinkled it with holy water to prevent his escape. <O:p</O:p
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“Well done,” she purred. “And should any of Frankie’s followers entertain even a thought of freeing him… You will suffer the same fate.”<O:p</O:p
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Natasha gestured to the band to play on as the coffin was carried out. A macabre but merry tune struck up as the shocked vampires slowly began to talk about what they had just seen. She turned to Monica. “Thank you,” she said. “You arranged everything perfectly.”<O:p</O:p
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Monica smiled. “It was my pleasure. How long will you leave him in there?”
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“Forever.” Her face was dark. “Let him suffer the same eternity of solitude as I will.”<O:p</O:p
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It was three-thirty in the morning. The dance floor was growing deserted as vampires slipped away to enjoy their sexual and sanguinary conquests before dawn. At least half of the lingering guests cast shy and hopeful looks her way. Everyone here assumed that she hadn't had sex since Jonathan's death a year ago. No doubt many were ready to capitalize on the physical frustration they all assumed she must be feeling. <O:p</O:p
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She walked out to the moonlit terrace and gazed into the dark. Stroking his skin tonight had reminded her of every miracle that was their nights together.... No other man could ever compare. And eternity was a long time to go without miracles.<O:p</O:p
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Monica appeared behind her. "Natasha. The limo is waiting whenever you are ready to leave. I've lined up a fresh meal for your awakening tomorrow evening."<O:p</O:p
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Natasha turned with a smile. "Monica. You are so very good to me. So organized, so efficient, so wise."<O:p</O:p
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Monica dipped her head, flattered. "You've taught me well."<O:p</O:p
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"Indeed I have. So well in fact that I want you to take over for me." Natasha watched as her assistant's pretty face dropped with shock. "I won't be Queen after tonight, Monica. You will."<O:p</O:p
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"What?" Monica gasped. "Natasha, please. Think what you're saying. Everyone needs you, wants you -"<O:p</O:p
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"They need and want a Queen. After tonight that will be you."<O:p</O:p
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Monica shook her head furiously. "I cannot let you return to that cold and dirty crypt, Natasha!"
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"I won't be returning to the crypt." Natasha smiled. "You've been a true friend, Monica. Do me one last favor and rule as the best Queen you can be."

</O:pThen she summoned all of her powers and vanished into the dark.

Veronica Wilde
October 20th, 2008, 09:59 PM
Part VIII<O:p</O:p
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Daybreak was just beginning to lighten the sky as Natasha stood alone in the cemetery. Her skin crawled with discomfort but she ignored it. Normally she locked herself in her coffin while it was still dark; she had always been an early sleeper. It was that flaw which Frankie had manipulated so expertly in his scheme to kill Jonathan. Knowing Natasha would be locked in for the day, he had drained him of blood and left his corpse to stiffen in the sun. By the time she had risen and found him at twilight, it had been too late to transform him into the undead. He was well and truly gone.<O:p</O:p
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Now she stood alone at dawn, resisting the instinct to flee into her crypt, and tried to remember how it felt to witness sunrise. It had been centuries since her last mortal dawn. The tweeting of birds filled her ears and a faint memory stirred inside her. A pale rose-blue light filled the cemetery. Amazing, she thought; after three hundred years I’ve forgotten how beautiful daybreak can be.<O:p</O:p
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The blood in her veins was growing hot and furious. Always the blood dictating her urges, her moves, her decisions. What kind of queen could she really be when she was ruled by such primitive thirst? Her mind flashed back to the local politics and the needy eyes of her supplicants. There were so many candlelit nights and fresh unbitten throats in her future. Yet all of them were meaningless without Jonathan by her side.
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Her blood burned like a fire now. It hurt like the most raging unslaked thirst. She glanced around the empty cemetery. Impossible to believe that he was nearby watching her. She couldn’t perceive him at all. No, she felt quite alone. Yet she had been alone for so long anyhow.<O:p</O:p
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The sky was lightening. As the sun rose over the oak trees lining the graveyard, Natasha held up her long bare arms and allowed the forbidden light of day to grace her skin. Like a thousand tiny flames licking her body, her skin burned. She closed her eyes. Oh God, it hurt but after centuries of safety and numbness, this pain was almost welcome… The sun rose ever higher. She ground her teeth, her fangs piercing her lip until it bled. She was shaking now as the fire swept over every inch of her, piercing her skin and infecting her bones and muscle with pain. <O:p</O:p
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Her skin began to smoke. Her eyes flew open in a kind of amazement, staring at her body as it turned black and charred. This couldn’t be happening. She couldn’t hold on, she couldn’t let her hands shrivel up into withered claws. Her lips burned away as she felt the softness of her gums exposed to the heat and then all at once her entire body was raging with agony. She opened her bleeding mouth and howled her agony to the morning skies.<O:p</O:p
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Then there was nothing. Silence and numbness were her entire existence. <O:p</O:p
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A moment passed, then another. Slowly she became aware of a blessed coolness, and the tweeting of the morning birds. You can see, Natasha. Open your eyes! She opened her eyes, surprised to find herself exactly as she was before – almost. As she looked down at herself, she realized she was no longer a vampire. She was human. Or rather, the ghost of the human woman she had been so long ago. <O:p</O:p
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She looked around. The cemetery was bright as she had never seen it, morning sunlight dancing over the tombstones. The flowers adorning the graves were bright red and yellow as she had never seen them. And there, next to her feet, was a pile of ash that used to be her body.<O:p</O:p
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She stared at it. I did it, she thought in amazement. I’m truly dead. After three hundred years, I’m finally dead. Oddly she had never felt so excited or full of possibility.<O:p</O:p
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She poked at the ash with her foot. To her surprise, her foot passed through it.<O:p</O:p
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“You can’t affect the physical world anymore, Natasha. We belong to a different physical reality. We can only observe this world.”<O:p</O:p
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The deep male voice reverberated with love like deep, rich honey. She turned, trembling, not daring to hope. Yet there he stood. Her Jonathan. Strangely he looked as solid and alive as he ever had. <O:p</O:p
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“I… I…” she stammered, as overcome by his presence as by the shock of her transition. He looked even more radiant in the light of the dawn that he had appeared last night by candlelight. His brown eyes regarded her with a love so pure and strong it took her breath away.<O:p</O:p
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She had traded so much for him. She was no longer alive. She was no longer a queen. She was no longer a powerful, blood-drinking vampire who cowed people with just a glance of her beautiful eyes. Instead she was just another ghost. She looked down at her mortal body once more. She was still curvy, still beautiful. Yet her skin was flushed pink and healthy, and a cursory run of her tongue around her teeth revealed the absence of those fangs she had known for centuries.<O:p</O:p
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“You won’t regret this,” Jonathan promised. He swept her into his arms, where she discovered that even if she could not physically affect her old world, they could physically affect each other. “Oh, Natasha. I have missed you so much.”<O:p</O:p
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He felt so different in her arms. So solid and real and glowing. Oddly she felt more connected to him now than she had ever felt when they were alive.

“Jonathan, I…” A lump of tears swelled in her throat. “I’m not a vampire anymore. I’m not special or beautiful like when you fell in love with me.”

A tear slid from her eyes. She wiped furiously at her face and saw that her tears were clear, not blood.<O:p</O:p
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“Natasha, hush. You are absolutely the beautiful woman I fell in love with… Only now you’ll be with me all of the time, instead of only at night.”<O:p</O:p
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His mouth met hers in a warm, tender kiss. She slid her arms around his waist and kissed him back with burgeoning passion, hardly able to imagine the endless adventures that awaited them. Yet she broke their kiss to stare into his handsome face once more. He was so heartbreakingly beautiful. Never would she grow tired of that perfect face.<O:p</O:p
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A quiet murmur caught her attention. Turning, she realized the cemetery she had thought so empty was now full of people. The other ghosts watched them with smiles, talked with each other, or futilely tried to comfort some of the families arriving early at the cemetery. It was November 1, she realized: Day of the Dead. Many families were bringing flowers and other offerings to their loved ones’ graves. She wondered idly who would mourn her. No doubt Monica would honor her crypt. But the truth was, she was done with this world. She was ready to explore new horizons.<O:p</O:p
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“Come.” Jonathan held out his hand. “There’s so much to show you, Natasha.”<O:p</O:p
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She accepted his hand, marveling at its warmth and strength in hers, and together they vanished into the sunrise.





THE END