by Susan R. Part One: "Meeting With Lucard"
Alexander Lucard sat at his desk looking at a file marked Martin
Hotels and Restaurants. He was waiting for news about a possible
takeover of the company from one of his spies in the United States.
"Gretta, has William Ashley, from Miami, called?" he asked into the phone.
"No sir, but I did get a call from a young lady named Jennifer Martin, daughter of Mackenzie Martin. She asked if you had any free time to see her today. She said that she needed to speak to you right away."
Alexander smiled. He did not know why Mr. Martin's daughter was in Europe, but he did know that she was involved in her father's hotel chains. "Did she leave a number where she can be reached?"
"She gave me her cellular phone number."
"Very good. Tell her to come as soon as she can."
Although Alexander was a little puzzled, he knew that he could use Jennifer as a bargaining chip to get all of her father's company. "Ah, fresh blood," he said with a laugh.
"Mr. Lucard," called Gretta, "Miss Martin is here to see you."
That was fast, thought Alexander. "Send her in."
The two doors slid open as a young lady stepped into Lucard's office. Alexander guessed that she was about twenty-five or so. He looked at her young, beautiful face, and then noticed her wavy brown hair that fell a little past her shoulders. Her navy blue dress was opened a little at the collar, revealing her neck. He could see her jugular vein, and smiled. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Martin," he said as he stood up to great her.
"I presume you are Alexander Lucard?" she asked as she held out her and.
"Yes," he said as he bent down and kissed the small hand. He could feel her nervousness as he let go of her hand. "So, what brings you here?" he asked as he gestured for her to take a seat.
"I really don't know how to begin. I guess I should tell you that I believe a friend of yours is dead."
"Oh, really? Who?"
"His name was William Ashley. He worked at an office in Miami, Florida."
"Yes, I know the name."
"Well, maybe this looks familiar to you," she said as she took out a small book. Alexander recognized it right away. William had kept a diary for over a century. He nodded as he took it from her. "He gave this to me and told me to mail it to you. He skipped a meeting with my father because he claimed that some men were after him and this is what they wanted. He told me that I could read it if I so desired to understand why he was in trouble. He took off and I never saw him again."
Alexander flipped through the pages. With his vampire powers, he could read each page in a second. "I assume you read it."
"Yes," she paused as she gave him an odd look. "Did you just read it as you flipped the pages?" she asked as her body began to shake in the chair.
"Yes," he paused as he looked at her. "He talked a great deal about me. You know what I am, don't you?"
"He claimed that you are a vampire, and not just any vampire, but Count Dra... Dracula." Slowly, the young lady began to cry. "You're... you're going to kill me..... Oh, God, I had no where else to turn. William wrote about a gang of vampires that called themselves 'The Dark Rulers.' They killed him and came after me because I had the diary. They knew that William was friends with Dracula, ruler of all vampires, but they never found out Dracula's true identity because William never told them about you. Not your name, or even that he worked for you."
Alexander handed her a handkerchief to dry her eyes. "Go on with your story," he said.
"This gang of vampires sent someone after me. If I hadn't read the diary, he would have killed me. I actually didn't believe the damn book, but I ran to a church and borrowed some holy water. My father has a bow and arrow set that he uses for sport sometimes, so I kept that with me. A strange man came to my door after sunset and said he was with the F.B.I. or something, and that he needed the diary. I asked if he wanted a drink of water, and when he denied, I 'accidentally' spilled it on him. He started screaming and there was smoke coming off of him. I grabbed one of the wooden arrows and shot it into him. He caught on fire and then was gone. My floor was covered in ashes.
"After he died, I was so terrified. My father was at a late meeting, and I didn't think he would be back until after midnight. I grabbed my credit card and called the airport to get on the next flight out of Tampa. I flew to Miami and then on to Germany. William wrote everything about Lucard Industries so I knew exactly where to find you."
"Why did you bring me the diary personally, if you suspected that I would kill you?"
"If I had stayed in Tampa, those vampires would have killed me. William said that the leader wanted to rule the world by destroying the human race and populating the world with vampires. He wants to destroy you and take over your empire. But, he still doesn't know who the real Dracula is. I knew that if I came here and possibly disappeared forever, then he might never find you and the world would go on as is."
"You are willing to risk your own life to save mine?" Alexander asked.
"I guess you could say that."
Alexander looked over the young lady as she wiped away the last of her tears. After centuries of killing mortals, none was ever ready to sacrifice his/her life to save his. He respected this woman's decision. "Miss Martin, you know that all vampires can go about during the day, right?"
"Yes, I sort of figured that part out."
"Do you think that you were followed?"
"Possibly. I kept what was left of the holy water with me, and kept a close lookout for anyone strange at both airports and on the planes, but I didn't see anyone."
"Vampires are very good at disguising themselves." Alexander looked at her face and smiled. He had a plan. "May I ask you where you are staying?"
"At a small inn not far from here," Jennifer said.
"Would you be interested in staying at a castle?"
"Excuse me? Would I? I have loved castles since I was a little girl. I take it the one outside of town is yours?"
"Yes, and I want you to stay at my home and consider this a holiday. And, you can relax; I'm not going to kill you."
Jennifer looked stunned. "I don't know what to say, Mr. Lucard, except thank you! I promise that I will make it up to you any way you wish. I swear on my soul that I will never tell a soul about you."
"I, too, will swear on my soul that I will protect you from the vampires that are after you. I'll make sure they get what they deserve."
"Again, thank you, Mr. Lucard."
"Since you will be my guest, I insist that you call me Alexander. I will send a car to pick you up around seven. I will have my cook prepare a meal for us and we can talk over dinner."
"Sounds wonderful, Mr. Lucard, I mean, Alexander. And, please, call me Jennifer."
"Very well. I'll see you tonight." Lucard took her hand and kissed it. He smiled as he watched her leave "I haven't had any real company at the castle in years. Miss Martin will be the perfect bait in capturing my enemies. Once that matter is over with, my sweet little Jennifer is going to have a choice between eternal life or death."
Jennifer Martin gathered up her suitcases and waited outside the
inn. She was nervous about staying at Lucard's castle. She had figured
out his plan. Use her to capture and kill 'The Dark Rulers' and then do
anything he wanted to with her. After all, she had promised him anything
for keeping her alive. She tried to look on the bright side. For now,
she was alive and just happened to be staying in a castle with a great
Jennifer thought about her father. She had called him from Miami and told him that a friend from college was in London and had been in a serious automobile accident. Mackenzie Martin trusted his only child and told her to stay as long as she wanted. She began to cry after hanging up the phone. Will I ever see my father again? she asked herself.
A black Mercedes stopped in front of Jennifer and Alexander Lucard was sitting in the back seat. The driver got out and opened the door for her as he took her bags. "Hello, Alexander," she said with a smile.
"Jennifer, I think you will enjoy your stay with me. I have the perfect room all prepared for you. My cook will have a goose ready for us shortly after we get to the castle."
"Can vampires eat?" she asked.
"Yes, although we don't prefer food."
"I read the novel Dracula in high school and I remember he didn't eat food or drink wine."
"I think you will discover that I am nothing like the character Mr. Stoker created."
As the car moved through the town, Jennifer looked at all of the old buildings. She commented to Alexander about how beautiful they looked. As the car turned away from town and the castle came into view, Jennifer gasped at the sight. "This is your castle, Alexander?" she asked with a smile.
"Yes, I have had it for centuries. Do you like it?"
"I love it! It's like something out of a story."
"Wait until you see the inside," he said as the car pulled up to the door.
Once Jennifer stepped inside the castle, she felt as if she had been pushed back into time. The inside looked so old, yet it was all in perfect shape. "You have real suits of armor and swords and... wow," she said as the stepped into the main hall. "I really do feel like I stepped into some medieval story or movie. You have a real fire burning in the fireplace and candles all around the room. Your castle is splendid, Alexander."
"I'm glad you love it so much. I prefer the medieval look, myself. Those years were the best of times. Have a seat by the fire. Would you like a glass of wine before dinner?" he asked as he took the seat across from hers.
"Yes, thank you, Alexander."
"After dinner, I will show you to your room. My castle has been modernized for mortal convenience."
Jennifer was amazed at how quickly the servant brought out two glasses of wine. She suspected that Alexander could communicate with his servants telepathically. She looked at him and smiled as she took her glass. "Alexander, if you run a corporation by day, and I assume hunt by night, do you ever sleep?"
"Yes, when I want some rest, I sleep in my coffin which is hidden in a secret room inside the castle. I propose a toast, to my new house guest. May she enjoy her stay in Germany," he said as he held up his glass.
Jennifer smiled as she held up her glass and then sipped some of her wine. She noticed his devilish smile as he made the toast and wondered why she was really his house guest. A midnight snack, perhaps, she thought to herself. Jennifer then wondered if he could read her thoughts, so she decided to try and keep her mind clear.
A servant came in to announce that dinner was ready. Alexander escorted Jennifer into the dining room. She looked at the table and wondered if she was seeing things. "Is it just me, or is your table in the shape of a coffin?" she asked as he pulled out a chair for her.
"Yes, I had it specially made for me years ago." Alexander took a seat at the other end of the table.
Jennifer enjoyed her dinner very much. She asked Alexander many questions about his castle and his company. She found herself at times just staring at him. She kept telling herself to forget about any romantic involvement with him, although she did find him very attractive.
"Miss Martin, you know a great deal about me, yet I hardly know a thing about you," said Alexander as their plates were taken away.
"Ask me anything," she said.
"I know your father runs hotels all over Florida, and that you are currently running one of the smaller hotels in Tampa. Are you going to be running the company one day?"
"Hopefully. I am an only child, and got my business degree from Harvard."
"Impressive. Have you been to Germany before?"
"No, only London and Paris. By the way, I thought Dracula lived in Transylvania, not some little town in Germany."
"I told you that Stoker's version was quite different from reality."
Jennifer began to yawn. "I'm sorry, it's not you, I just haven't slept much in the past few days."
"I understand. Follow me, and I will show you to your room," he said as he lead her back to the main hall and up the stairs.
Jennifer was lead down several hallways until she was stopped in front of a large wooden door. "Welcome to your room," Alexander said as he opened the door.
Jennifer's eyes widened as she saw the beautiful room. All of the furniture was made of solid oak and looked very old fashioned. In the center of the room was a queen-sized canopy bed with white sheets and matching curtains that hung all the way to the floor. "Oh, it's so beautiful, Mr. Lucard. It makes me think that this once belonged to a princess."
"Many, many years ago, several princesses, queens, and ladies of the court stayed here," said Lucard with a smile, as if remembering centuries ago. "It is perfect for you, m'lady," he said as he bent down to kiss Jennifer's hand. Now I must bid you good-night."
Jennifer turned to see Lucard walk down the hall. Her luggage was sitting on the floor next to a large wooden closet. She unpacked quickly before getting ready for bed. As she blew out the last of the candles, Jennifer thought to herself, I can't believe that I'm really in Dracula's castle. Why does someone that handsome and charming have to be so deadly?
Alexander Lucard flew back to his castle after doing a little
hunting in the park. He saw the window to Jennifer's room and flew in.
A second later, he stood by her bed in human form. He watched as a small
breeze blew her bed curtains away revealing her body sleeping
peacefully. Seeing a woman sleeping in the bed brought back memories
from years ago. It has been over a hundred years since a woman slept
here, he thought as he moved closer to her. Those were the nights when I
would not have to even think about hunting. I charmed them, seduced
them, and then, they belonged to me.
Lucard sat on the edge of the bed and brushed away the young lady's hair. "The same fate awaits you, my sweet," he whispered as he bent down and kissed her softly on the lips. He knew she was beginning to awaken so her left her room before she had a chance to open her eyes.
Jennifer woke up hours after the sun had risen. She felt great after getting over nine hours of sleep. As she got dressed, she remembered having a dream about Lucard. I wonder if he really did come into my room and kissed me, she thought as she walked out of the room. One of Lucard's servants found her right away and led her to the dining room. She found her breakfast waiting for her, and there was more food than she could possibly eat in a week. Another servant brought out a note to give her. She unfolded it and read it:
I want you to enjoy your time at my castle so you may do whatever you wish. My servants will get you anything you desire. If you wish to go to town, there will be a car waiting for you. I will be at Lucard Industries until after six. My cook will have dinner for us at seven.
Max Townsend sat on a bench reading one of his comic books. He had
to get out of the house before Chris drove him nuts with his music. He
knew the only reason Sophie put up with it was because she was getting
used to it, not to mention that she was crazy about Chris.
"Excuse me," said a woman's voice, "can I sit down next to you?"
Max lowered his comic book to look at the young lady. He guessed that she was in her twenties and American. "Sure, don't mind me," he said as he smiled at her.
The lady sat down. "You are American?" she asked him.
"Yup, from Philadelphia. How about yourself?"
"I'm from Tampa. My name's Jennifer Martin."
"Max Townsend. So why are you here?"
"I'm visiting a friend. You must be here with your family, on summer vacation?"
"Well, my brother and I are staying with our great-uncle. My mother got a new job in which she has been traveling around Europe."
"Sounds interesting. This is only my second day here so I decided to do a little shopping."
"Yeah, this town gets boring after a few days. There's not much to see. Doesn't look like you bought much," he said as he looked at the small bag in her hand.
"No, I bought myself this necklace." Jennifer took a small box out of her bag and opened it to reveal a silver and gold cross.
"That is very beautiful, and a good thing to wear in this town," Max said, thinking of all of the vampires that lived in town.
"Oh really? Is it some sort of good luck charm?"
"You could say that. It's something my Uncle Gustav told me when my brother and I came here. There is kind of a legend that goes along with it."
"Interesting," she said as she put the necklace on.
Max glanced at his watch and realized that he needed to get home and help Sophie with cooking dinner. "It was nice meeting you, but I've got to get home. I'm sure I'll see you around," he said as he stood up and walked away. He wondered if she knew anything about the vampires around town. Max knew that at least she was safe from Lucard.
Continued in part two...
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