I was afraid to look behind. I had run far from the city and into a dark and damp world I knew little of. My dress had torn back at the fencing around the garden. I tripped there in the mud, but still I ran.
I could barely calm my heart, but I found a place to lean and catch my breath. I knew what he was, even if others wouldn’t believe me.
“Juliette,” his silky voice fell over me like fog. I trembled, but stayed hidden as best I could. I think a part of me understood I would never truly get away. I pressed my back to the bricks and shivered. He was ever-close; my body trembled as I heard him crunch the leaves under his boots. And then, there he was. “No tears,” he said as he wiped my cheek. His eyes were aglow; sharply fixed on my every detail.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” I whispered. I was exhausted, mind and body, and I was unable to run away.
“I’ve waited for you,” he spoke. I watched his eyes as they followed my hair down to my neck. Then he paused. His sight stuck at my open flesh, and I struggled to ease my heart. “I’ve waited for the night that you would venture into the meadow, in search of the monster that called to you,” he hissed. “But you see, I am no monster.” He stepped back and opened his long black coat. Beneath, he was dressed like any other respectable man I knew.
“They don’t truly believe what you are,” I cleared with heavy breath. “They’re afraid, but they’ll never really know.”
“And you do?” he quickly asked, closing his coat and stepping near.
“I’ve wanted to,” I spoke honestly. He was correct that I had wandered into the meadow in search of him. I had heard his call for weeks, and my curiosity was eating at my mind. “What do you want from me?” I asked, certain in my thoughts that I already knew.
“I want you to be mine,” he affirmed as he took hold of my neck. I shuttered in his grasp, but did not feel pain as I had expected. Instead, his lips pressed to my skin and then he rose to see my eyes with his own. For a moment, he lingered—his gaze piercing deep into mine. I felt a strange comfort with him, a purpose, there in his cold arms.
He lowered again—his lips briefly gracing my skin—then I felt the pain. His teeth punctured deep into my vein, and the warmth of my blood trickled down over my chest. He drank for several seconds before lifting his eyes to my face. Stained lips, red teeth; he held me steady as weakness overtook my bones.
Then, while I gripped onto his shoulder for balance, he bit his own wrist as I watched his blood drip into the darkness. He placed his flesh to my mouth and allowed me to drink. And I was his.