while on offer for 99 cents:
My heart was pounding. Down the hall I rushed, until I found a door that opened onto a terrace. I expected guests to be there, many of the terraces were full of party goers, but not this particular one. Out I stepped. I looked quite a sight, my gown was torn and I knew my hair was disheveled. I paused. Where to go? It’s all well and good to try and flee but in what direction?
I thought to walk to the gates but there were guards. From the state I was in, what would they think? I’d be hauled before the head of the household staff. There was no doubt about that! That was the last thing I wanted.
Then I noticed two people walking toward me, a lady and a gentleman. I am done for I thought. So I ran without thinking, I just rushed in the opposite direction. And horror of horrors I saw I was going to crash into a man. And crash into him, I did.
“I am sorry, Monsieur. I did not mean to rush so.”
He didn’t answer right away, but took me by the arm toward the palace. “You’re not a thief are you, up to mischief or anything like that?”
I protested, I pleaded. But to no avail. Suddenly we stopped. There was enough light for him to see me. “You are a mess! What happened?”
“I was attacked…!”
“What do you mean?”
I began to stutter and found myself unable to go on.
The gentlemen reassured me. “There, there.” he said. “Calm down. Tell me are you hurt? Did someone harm you?”
“Yes! He tried…”
He was waiting for me to go on but I could not. I didn’t want to say what I had to tell him. At last I broke down. “Oh sir, I fought him as hard as I could but he beat me. And…then when he began to have his way with me, I killed him, he’s dead!”
“Dead? Are you sure?”
“Yes. He is that!”
“Do you know his name?”
“The Duc Amont!”
If I thought he would be horrified, he wasn’t. He didn’t even look surprised. “You come with me. I shall help you. I give you my word! Wait here. I will have my driver come.”
Before I could answer he put his cape around me, quite a long cloak it was too. “There, you look fine now. Wait here no one will see you and I will be right back!” He led me into the shadows. “Now wait!”
I did, sobbing as quietly as I could and shaking too. It was all so crazy; I had actually killed a man! It was not to be believed. I had killed an aristocrat! I would be thrown into prison and executed. Of that I was sure. I was one of the common people. Before I could think any more of this, he returned.
“Come,” he said. He hurried me along so quickly, I stumbled. He asked me if I could walk. I said I could.
I had the feeling he was angry, not at me but at what had happened to me. He did say something, nothing I could understand for he spoke in Italian and rapidly. I thought he was excited and upset for me, so he lapsed into his native tongue.
When he realized he stopped. “I am Italian by birth--Monsieur Oriani at your service.”
At last we came to his carriage. He helped me inside. And the carriage was off.
He was speaking a great deal. I tried so hard to listen, but I kept falling asleep. “It is alright. Just rest we will be there soon.”
I did sleep, waking only when the carriage stopped. He helped me out.
“That is it.”
I was surprised for I saw an ordinary looking house. I thought him quite important and expected to see something out of the ordinary.
“It is the home of a friend, on loan to me.” He said. “I will tend to your wounds after I light a fire.”
He made poultices of evil smelling concoctions. “This will help the healing and prevent infection…”
I had deep scratches. They stung and the cool mixture, though it chilled me at first, did ease the pain—still I hardly cared, for I was barely awake. In fact he said I slept nearly two days.
When I woke he gave me broth to drink. It was thin and not at all nice. “I found a cooked chicken in the larder and I have made the broth from it. Please, it is good for you.”
I took it and under his encouraging stare, I sipped it to his satisfaction. I think those were the beginnings of the tenderness I felt.
We didn’t discuss what had occurred. If I thought he’d ask me about myself he did not. Instead he spoke of mundane things to distract me.
I realized I quite liked him; his handsome features and his voice. It was rich sounding and educated.
Time passed strangely through dreams and shadows. I had the sense he was there and then he wasn’t. The dreams stopped but the shadows lasted quite a long time. I was only aware of light and dark and his gentle voice asking me how I was.
When the shadows receded and I was alert he asked me what I was going to do.
“You must have a plan. There is danger everywhere. If others do not understand the danger they are in, they soon will.”
I asked him if he meant the King and Queen. He said he did. “Day by day the people grow more angry. There have already begun to be arrests and there is the talk of more, much more. You can stay here if you like. I will have a servant stay with you and I will come by whenever I can to visit you.”
I would have preferred him to stay, but who was I to make such a suggestion?
He explained he had important business to attend to. But that he would see me often. I watched him leave and was heartsick, but true to his word he brought a servant back that very day, before night fall.
She was a sober looking woman, quite beyond middle age. She was kind and didn’t ask any questions. “Call me Anna,” she said and I did.
She realized I had many questions about her employer and she answered them but her answers only made me want to ask more questions.
In time a routine was established where Monsieur Oriani came by regularly. Anna would always leave when he did.
It was late summer. It was hard to believe that two months had passed. I had begun to wonder why he was keeping me there. Yet, I welcomed his all too brief visits.
When he came, we’d have a quiet meal Anna prepared. I had been fully recovered and was starting to wonder what I should do. Any time I broached the subject of leaving, he told me it wasn’t safe to be about. “There have been more arrests. Even those servants who worked for the palace are being scrutinized. Soon the king and queen will be put on trial.”
“Yes, but plans are being made for their exile!”
If I thought highly of him for having saved me, I regarded him now as a saint. “You are very kind.” I said.
He took my hand and kissed it. ““Do not worry, my child. I will protect you.”
It happened during a storm. There was thunder and lightning, loud and frightening it was. I had been dreaming, some terrible nightmare. When I heard someone call to me. “I will sit here so that you sleep.”
I was so grateful for the comfort and slept peacefully, the nightmare was gone because it had turned into something filled with warmth and light.
I woke sometime during the night. The fire was low—and I could just see his face in the flickering light. He smiled at me. Then he kissed me. If I thought to pull away I didn’t, instead I kissed him back. And with a young woman’s first burst of passion I responded ever more.
Not before too long I was naked before the fire in his embrace, touched and caressed as I never had been. He whispered my name and I imagined love lasting forever.
“I will love you forever,” I swore.
He didn’t respond in kind, instead he whispered my name and took me again and again.
I was in love with him. There was passion stirred within me I had never experienced. If I loved him in this way, he felt the same about me, I was certain!
(end of chapter)
Born in pre-Revolutionary France and orphaned as a child, Justine Bodeau is taken in by a family friend who employs her as a seamstress. Eventually, she winds up to work in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette.
A strong-willed survivor, defeat does not occur to her. When she fights off an attack by an aristocrat and kills him, she is given refuge but is soon betrayed and winds up on the streets of Paris, where she is attacked and killed by rogue vampires. But for whatever reason, love will not let her die.
Justine goes from wishing to be destroyed to wanting to survive, when she feels passion for the one who brought her back, Gascoyne — the one they call the Vampire Prince of Paris.