Countess Sasha Rossi feels the death of her brother Vlad Dracula and sets out to avenge his death. She arrives in England and finds an unlikely ally in the form of her Lady's maid Molly. As she stalks the men responsible for her brother's death, she discovers there is more than vengeance to be found if she has the courage.

I fell in love with Dracula when I read the book in junior high and it always bothered me that Van Helsing and his cohorts got away with killing him. This story is my attempt to right that wrong.


Disclaimers :

This story is a work of fiction, the primary characters are mine. Since it is a follow-up story to “Bram Stoker's Dracula, the back story, and pertinent characters belong to him, I just borrowed them. Margaret Brown, the names of the victims of Jack the Ripper and the ship The Carpathia belong to history, again, I just borrowed them for this story.

Sex and violence: Yes to both, it is a vampire story and a vampire is after all a predator. This story depicts a romantic relationship between consenting same sex partners. If you are under 18 or this is illegal where you live, please read something else.


Much thanks to my friend Megan who read this tale and hopefully found all my grammar erriors. Enjoy.

Feedback is welcome, this is my first attempt at Uber fiction so respectful insights will be greatly appreciated. Reach me at:



The Dragon's Sister

By Jen Cunningham


Chapter One


She blinked the chill rain from pale blue eyes, pulled from her mental roaming by a sudden shift in her stallion. He'd sidestepped, dodging a falling branch caused by the blast of lightning that streaked through the grove of oaks they were currently sheltered in. Her garments were soaked through, the wind had blown the hood of the cloak back and she shook the water from slender fingers to quiet her equine companion. His damp coat, a match to the raven tresses clinging to her face, made them invisible to passers by.

This storm tossed woman was no stranger to dark lonely roads. On its face, this road was no different than any other she had traveled, save the reason she was out on such an unforgiving night. In truth, the weather was of little matter, her mind had been adrift in memories and the tempest could not hold a candle to the dark storm of images raging in her brain.

Countess Sasha Rossi, as she was currently known, had left the dark forests and towering mountains of her native land more than two centuries ago, seeking adventure. She had wandered far, learning much, but until now had never been to the British Isles. Unlike her other journeys she was not here as a pilgrim, but as an avenger.

Sasha had once lived quite happily with her brother Vlad and his wife Elizabetha, in their ancestral home on a windswept crag along the Borgo Pass in Transylvania. When the Church called upon his sword to fight the Turks, ever devout, Prince Vlad had gathered his armies to meet the Muslim invaders. Wanting to defend her homeland, disguised as a man to protect her identity, his sister rode at his side.

They were victorious in battle, but the Turks intercepted the scout party sent with news of the Prince's rout of the enemy. Seeking to land one final blow against the Carpathian leader, they killed the squad in ambush and shot an arrow into the castle containing a message of Vlad's death. Overwrought with the loss of her love and in fear of what the advancing army might do to her, Elizabetha flung herself from the castle battlements mere hours before the sibling's triumphant return.

Still in his bloodstained armor, the warrior Prince carried his bride's body to the family chapel deep within the estate. To Vlad's shock, the priest barred his way and refused to allow his wife burial rites in the crypt within the building because of her suicide. The Bishop offered to share communion with the grieving siblings but their plea for Elizabetha's absolution fell on deaf ears. Vlad forced his way into the temple and laid his wife's body down on the steps before the altar. He reminded them of all he had done for the Church, and his steadfast devotion. They rebuked him, pointing out Elizabetha's mortal sin. Rage erupted as a roar from Vlad's throat.


The assembled clergy scattered in horror as Vlad, cursing them and their God tore off his armor, drew his broadsword and plunged it into the center of the great Cross above the altar. At his act of sacrilege, blood gushed from the wound in the icon. Picking up the priest's sacred chalice from the ruined vestments, Vlad dipped it into the unholy fountain. With a final curse at the fleeing priests, Vlad drank down the blood, flung the cup aside and stood screaming out his pact to Darkness.

He swore to rise from his own death to feed on the blood of the living. In answer, the entire front of the chapel began to bleed, fouling the holy sanctuary for all time.

In shock at his actions, and despite her fears for her own soul, Sasha knew she could not, would not, abandon her brother. If she remained at his side it would mean that she too would turn her back on the Church they had served so faithfully.

Hot tears fell as she stood in the vestibule watching the tragic scene. Vlad's head was now tipped back, his rage washed away in a fresh tide of grief. His bloodshot blue eyes were pinned on the stained glass mural of himself and Elizabetha on the ceiling, unveiled at their wedding on this same spot. He dropped to his knees at Elizabetha's side, the gown she wore now scarlet where it had trailed across the foot of the altar. Despite the height of the step it was soaking up the blood still flowing across the floor.

Sasha slowly entered and knelt in the pool of blood at her brother's feet. She scooped up the train of the dress along with her sister-in-law and placed her gently into Vlad's arms. She moved to his side and her raven head touched the deep chestnut of his. Her pale blue eyes spilled over as she leaned back meeting his pain filled cerulean gaze. Clearly shining in both the loss of the woman each, in their own way, had loved. Vlad stood and shifted Elizabetha in his arms. With one last look at the mural on the ceiling, Sasha followed him down the stairs behind the ruined altar and helped him bury her sister-in-law in the crypt.

The survivors of Vlad's rampage fled, telling all they met of Vlad's sacrilege. The Turks were a quickly fading menace compared to Vlad. When he seized the throne, the once powerful nobles were the first to taste Vlad's vengeance. His enemies now lost their lives not to the honorable blood of combat, but to the cruelty of torture. The impalements that Vlad ordered often masked the evidence of their true manner of death. Sasha well remembered her brother's delight when the tales of Vlad's 'taste' for the blood of his enemies began to spread.

Sasha grieved for her brother as well. Without Elizabetha's gentle light or the solace of the Church, the blood rage born in the heart of the Dracul warrior that night forever changed the brother she loved. He had buried his humanity along with his bride, his allegiance turning from preserving life to destroying it. Sasha kept her vow to serve her Prince as the brother she loved became Nosferatu , a creature of blood lust and hate who fed on the lives he had once protected.

With Vlad slipping into ever more dark revels in the capital city, it fell to his sister to defend their ancestral lands. The battle hardened young Countess kept to the warrior code of the order of the Dracul even through Vlad's descent into darkness. Sasha continued to ride out to defend their homeland even impersonating the Prince when the need arose.

Then, on a fateful night, Vlad found his sister and her guards in a fight with stragglers from the defeated Turkish army. These men had become bandits, terrorizing the villages that the castle depended on for its supplies. Watching his sister post battle, with pride in her skills, Vlad was unprepared when one of the remaining bandits, feigning surrender, stabbed Sasha as she reached down to help him rise to his feet. Leaping forward, he broke the coward's neck and carried her, mortally wounded, back to the castle. Unable to watch his sister die in his arms, Vlad replaced her lost blood with his own and Sasha woke three days later as a vampire.

Despite her new incarnation, Sasha retained the desire to protect her homeland. The new vampire's first hunt was a raid on the surviving members of the bandit pack that had attacked her. She returned to her duties as defender of the night roads, her new gifts enabling her to ease the terror of Vlad's more creative torments aimed mostly at the nobles of the land.

When Sasha visited the capital, her prey was those who broke the law in the city. It was due to her efforts it was said during Vlad's reign, a golden cup sat unmolested in the very center of town at a fountain for all to use and none dared steal. As her powers grew, the young vampire became adept at passing into her victims the self-healing that she possessed and none of them bore the telltale mark of the vampire's bite.

Unfortunately for a young vampire wishing to travel, the need to avoid direct sunlight was no myth. An early foray into the world alone had nearly cost her life when a barn she'd sheltered in caught fire and only the nearness of sunset and a horse blanket had saved her life. While she healed, Sasha endured many lectures on planning and support from her elder sibling who thereafter, sent a full guard of his Gypsy Bloods with her whenever she left the castle.

Although Sasha loved Vlad, she was unwilling to spend a near immortal lifespan no more than 100 paces from where she was born. Since her time as a soldier, the desire to explore new lands burned deeply in the young beauty. Sasha studied maps and texts from the countries she wished to see and learned all she could, so she might set out on her own. Her next sojourn into the world outside her homeland was however, less an adventure and more of an escape from pain.


Chapter Two


After seeing what had passed between Vlad and Elizabetha, Sasha refused to settle for less than the joining of souls her brother had found. While she played the role of proper unmarried noblewoman well, none of the suitors brave enough to approach Vlad for her hand had a hope of winning her heart. Most recalled her prowess on the battlefield and found her too independent a woman to grace their arms and it was an open secret among her peers that she preferred her own gender.

In addition to her other duties, with Elizabetha gone, the role of hostess fell to Sasha. It was a tedious parade of fawning, desperate nobles and no pleasure for the dark haired girl. The sole exception was the daughter of a Bavarian Duke who visited Sasha at the sibling's ancestral home whenever her father came to the capital. The young woman was a key factor in the young Countess' ability to enjoy the responsibilities thrust upon her.

Inid was witty and athletic, and the slim blonde's visits took Sasha out of the barracks life she lead as Captain of her brother's guard and into the more gentle pursuits of concerts, roaming museums and afternoon tea. Inid's presence around the house lessened the pall that had fallen over the castle since Elizabeta's death. Sasha admired her courage in continuing to visit despite the tales of horror circulating the country of Vlad's predations among the people. Sasha found herself falling in love with the chocolate eyed Bavarian beauty. The eagerness, with which Inid had returned her kisses and roaming hands, convinced Sasha that the Duchess felt the same.

The younger vampire wished to reveal their secret and ask Inid to join their Blood family. Sasha went to Vlad, assuring him that her friend felt just as deeply for her. He consented and Sasha sat in her room staring down the road where her loves carriage would soon be arriving. She thought of the day of her own rebirth as a vampire. When her transformation was complete, he had brought along a young runaway to be Sasha's first feed and to give Sasha a sexual release when she rose for the first time. Once the blood hunger was sated the hunger for pleasure took its place. Sasha was lost in a daydream where Inid would rise and Sasha would be there as her first and last lover. Much to Sasha's great surprise, her plans for their future did not go as well as she had hoped.

Later that night the young vampire was wrapped around Inid in post coital bliss. Sasha was taken by surprise when the young woman laughed at the idea of the two of them setting up a household together. The thought had crossed the vampire's mind as she was stroking the blonde's head where she lay catching her breath against Sasha's thigh. Inid clearly believed that Sasha had spoken aloud and Sasha had the presence of mind to act as if she had. Somehow a link much like that of a blood connection formed from her lovers taste of the vampire's passions release. Among the various restrictions and abilities that came with being a vampire, Vlad had never mentioned this as a possibility. Although she had the ability to do so, Sasha had never delved into her companion's thoughts, convinced that it was unnecessary. The Duchess' attitude was a blow deeper than any sword cut she had taken in battle.

Moving Inid from her lap, Sasha rose from the bed, pulled on her robe and sat next to the fire, stunned by this turn of events. She watched her dress, the duchess completely oblivious to the pain she had caused the dark haired girl. The vampire noted Inid's crucifix did not burn her skin when she put it on. She had always removed the cross at her friend's request, understanding that the young countess no longer held to the Church's teachings after her sister-in-law's death. Filing the fact away for future consideration, Sasha stood and began to pace. How could she have been so wrong about her friend's feelings? Her heart in her throat, Sasha pleaded, “Why not be together? I thought you loved me.”

Inid turned at last hearing the sadness in her companion's voice. She smiled at the brunette and in a voice filled with reproach, told her, “I do love you, as a dear friend and delightful companion. Our time together has been a marvelous affair but truly you must realize, women of station are meant to make a good match with a man of property and have sons to carry on his name."

The surprises were not over for Sasha. Inid further informed the stunned woman that she'd heard the rumors of Sasha's preference for women and had wanted to taste of forbidden fruit before settling into a respectable marriage. Sasha never saw Inid after that night and threw away the invitation to her wedding that arrived later that year. Sasha hardened her heart after that night. She had her share of lovers, but never allowed herself to become attached to anyone.


Sasha reclaimed her soldier's persona and left her homeland behind. The Countess spent many years traveling the mysterious lands of the Far East. Living among the villages and Temples of Nepal, Japan and China, Sasha learned to perfect the mental powers her vampire blood had given her. She could hide in plain sight and the fighting monks honed her battle skills to a razor's edge. Sasha took on and abandoned many guises over the years as her wanderings took her farther and farther away from home.

Periodically the raven haired woman would return to try and coax her brother out into the world with her. No longer did Vlad rule their homeland. He had finally been deposed when his excess among the aristocracy had finally reached the point of revolution. Faking his death, he retreated to the Borgo Pass keep with his Royal Guard. Although the siblings hunted together and were glad to once again be in each other's company, it was clear to Sasha that with the final overthrow of his regime her brother was no longer interested in the outside world.

On her last visit, Sasha found their ancestral home was swiftly becoming a crumbling ruin. The only new addition to the castle were Vlad's Companions. Three sensual young women Vlad introduced as his Brides. Sasha noted with some surprise that two of the women resembled Elizabetha. The other was red haired and feisty girl Sasha remembered from the tavern in the nearest village to the castle. Although their devotion to Vlad was evident, he made it clear to Sasha that even though they shared his life and home; they had not replaced Elizabetha in his heart.

Sasha understood more than he thought she would. She had kept her feelings locked away since her experience with love although Inid was long buried. The Countess sought only short, often sweet affairs or sometimes just release after she fed. When not on the prowl for victims, Vlad now immersed himself in his women. Sasha was not chaste by any means nor did she begrudge her brother a way to ease his lonely heart, it did however, quickly become more than Sasha cared to witness.

Vlad gifted her with the dowry that would have gone to the man she would marry and she opted for a home of her own and for the next century, lived in a remote villa in the hills along the bay in Naples, Italy. The Countess built upon her inheritance at first by selling the oil from the olive trees on her estate and later turned those profits to other ventures. She corresponded regularly with her brother. He had taken her advice and began investing in property to maintain the family fortune but beyond that he seemed content to learn of the world outside from her letters and the reports of his Servants. Then his most recent letter arrived.

Somehow, against all odds, Vlad believed that he had found his lost Elizabetha, her soul reborn in the body of a young woman of England. He had left their castle at long last to be reunited with her. The dark woman was stunned. His joy was in every word of the missive she received from London, he even hinted at coming to visit with his long lost love.

Out in her garden on a cloudless night just weeks later, Sasha had felt a shattering pain in her chest and in a blinding flash the demise of the Brides had exploded in her mind. The pain of their deaths had filled her body with pain, her mind with first grief, and then a black rage. Later, the death of her brother rolled over her in a wave of agony. She had been preparing to return to her childhood home when Vlad's remaining Gypsies had come to her, telling her the tale of what had happened at the castle.

They spoke of how the famous professor Dr. Abraham Van Helsing of Vienna had come to the castle with a woman, Mina Harker, the prince's reincarnated wife. In the daylight, the professor had found the hidden crypt and upon finding the Brides there, killed them and threw their severed heads into the river.

The final battle had come later when the Professor's companions had arrived, racing the Prince's wagon and the sunset to the mountaintop keep. Mina was not the cowed pawn that Van Helsing had believed her to be. She raised a storm in an attempt to provide sufficient cloud cover for their Lord to rise, but to no avail. Fighting off the Blood Guard the men swarmed the Prince's wagon, dealing him a mortal blow. He stumbled into the castle in the young woman's arms and she alone was witness to his passing. Upon hearing the dire tale, Sasha's warrior blood had flared and she made a vow; the pillagers from England would pay in blood for this attack on her home, her family.


Sasha growled in frustration startling her mount. Had Vlad listened to her, he never would have been so easily taken. Vlad left himself vulnerable to discovery because of his weakness when traveling. The first of her enterprises was to become a secret investor in several cartage and import/export businesses. As a silent partner, these endeavors provided both money and a means to travel not dependent on public transport. The ship she had traveled to London on was owned by one of her export houses.

Sasha had contacted her broker and through him, purchased an estate in the open lands south of London. Corresponding with the head of her new household staff, she had some of her belongings from her Naples home transferred to her new estate and directed the Gypsies to return to the castle with the rest. In a moment of sentimentality she also had her solicitor buy Vlad's London holdings under one of her other assumed names. Her brother had known some small joy in England and Sasha wanted to retain the home where he had found love again. The strategic value of having access to these holdings could be crucial to her as well.

The storm had blown itself out and the land was still, save her and her travel weary mount. Consulting the map in her saddlebags, she turned her horse toward her estate. Sending her luggage ahead, she had opted to ride from the harbor alone to get a feel for the city and familiarize herself with the country of her enemies as she had all those long years ago when she was an officer in Vlad's army on campaign.

Fog had now risen and looking behind her through the swirling mist the outline of London could be seen. It was two years to the day since Vlad's death and the quest for vengeance had at last begun. The Transylvanian's pale blue eyes narrowed beneath furrowed sable brows. Somewhere, the lights of the city shone down on the men who had murdered the last of her blood kin. I am here Vlad. Now they will pay she promised and kicked her stallion into a gallop.


Chapter Three


Sasha rode into the courtyard of her estate shortly before dawn. A young man in gold and blue livery rose from a bench beside the entrance to the mansion and approached the cloaked rider raising a lantern. "Countess Rossi?" He asked and confusion colored his tone as he noted her masculine attire.

Sasha had never been one to bow to convention. She had for centuries, been her own mistress. She wore what she liked, convention be damned and on this chilly morning she was darkness personified; black shirt and vest, black pants tucked into knee high black riding boots under a flowing black wool cape lined with purple silk. The only other color she wore was a lavender ascot around her neck, fastened with a pin depicting her family crest.

Since her days as a soldier in her brother's army it had been in Sasha's habit for comfort, safety and stealth to wear trousers fully aware that it was a practice frowned upon for ladies of standing. Although the luggage she had sent ahead contained a full complement of women's fashions, the layered skirts with shoes, gloves and hats to match, were not her costume of choice.

A curt nod answered him and he continued," I am your Major Domo, Tobias Stone, my Lady. All has been prepared for your arrival."

The man before her seemed young for his position of manager, but his manner spoke of a life of obedience and service, something her noble blood appreciated and her dark aspect required. She smiled to herself, after over three centuries of living, everyone was young to her. Swinging down from the horse she removed her saddlebags and handed them over to the young man. Gesturing for him to her proceed her, she shook her hair free of the cloak and stretched saddle stiffened legs, stroking the big stallion as she took her first look at the outer details of her temporary home.

Dark and foreboding in the light of the torches, beauty and strength could be seen in the cold stone. A modest estate at only two stories high with a mere twenty rooms, towers graced the east and west wings of the mansion and balconies overlooked the attached gardens. Another man came forward, and after specific instruction on the stallion's care and handling, the Countess released the reins. The groomsman took her horse off to a path leading around the back of the house she assumed lead to the stables.

Tobias stood near the entryway discreetly observing the Countess as she spoke to the groom. She was tall, a rare thing for women in these parts. When she bared her head, raven hair fell unbound past broad shoulders. The bold lines and high cheekbones of her face spoke of her noble line as did the aloof set of her classic features. Despite the odd manner of dress he found her quite beautiful. Her eyes set his heart pounding in his chest. The color reminding him of the center of a gas flame, a haunting shade of blue, he nearly lost himself in the burning light of their hypnotic depths. The large pupils seemed to absorb rather than reflect the glow of the torches. With a start, he realized she had finished with the groom and was waiting for him to show her in and dropped his own hazel eyes in embarrassment, ashamed to be caught staring.

Sasha's wolf sharp ears had picked up his unguarded gasp as well as his thoughts of shock at seeing a highborn woman dressed in such a masculine manner. Her brows came together in displeasure.

"Spare me your English judgments and take me to my chambers."

Her softly accented voice was a low growl and the young man quickly recovered himself, bowing and opening the left side of the massive doors, preceding her into the vestibule. Setting down his burdens, he turned to take her cloak and riding gloves, hanging them in a small alcove to the right of the door. Following the young man up the stairs and deeper into the estate, Sasha found herself pleased with her new headquarters.

Sasha did not share her brother's taste for cobweb shrouded halls or drafty crypts; it had been another reason she had left their ancient home, the smell of decay clung to everything. No, Sasha lived in undeath as she had in life, in comfort and understated luxury. The rooms that met her weary eyes were filled with rich fabrics and dark wood. Having bought the house mostly because of its proximity to London, she'd had some reservations, but with the welcome sight of the furniture from the villa she had sent over, the dark woman felt a small sense of familiarity with her surroundings.

At last entering the West wing, the young man led Sasha to the last of several doors down a long hallway. Opening the gilded oak doors they entered the lounge area of a large suite of rooms. After a quick tour of the rooms, Tobias stopped before a floor to ceiling tapestry, a fox hunt charging across sunlit hills, along the back wall of the bedroom. Reaching a hand underneath, he showed her a hidden switch. He pressed it and a panel slid back, revealing a passageway.

The steward looked up into the puzzled eyes of the Countess, quickly explaining, “This estate once belonged to a rebel Lord. In times of conflict, these corridors and chambers were used to hide enemies of the crown. I had it prepared to accommodate your special need for privacy during the day." He indicated the door on the other side of passage.

"What would you know of my private needs boy?" The low voice rumbled and the pale eyes flashed with a menace that caused the young man to take a step back from the tall woman. With a raised brow, Sasha bid Tobias to explain his words.

“I knew your brother Countess. It was I who posted his last letter to you." Surprise raised her other brow. “I recognized your name when we were first informed of the sale of the estate and received notice of your arrival," the young man said.

"Two years ago when the former owner of this estate became unable to give me a salary, I found work in the city as a messenger. One night I was accosted by a band of ruffians in one of the seedier parts of the city. Out of nowhere it seemed to me, came your brother. He stepped into our fight and into the path of the weapon headed towards me. He took a knife to the belly from the leader of the group that I was sure would finish him.”

“ To my shock he simply pulled the knife out and turned it on his owner. The gang scattered and I helped him back to his lodging. I stayed at his side that night, for he would have no doctor see to his wound. Scarce an hour later when I questioned him on his condition, he swept his jacket aside and the horrible gash in his side was nearly healed."

Tobias unbuttoned his coat and showed the dark woman two small wounds on the inside of his wrist. "I fed him that night, to restore what the wound had taken. I owed him my very life and I knew that I could, nor ever would, betray the trust he showed me.

I became his eyes and ears, often shirking my other duties to assist him." The young man added with a wry grin," Soon after that night in the alley Prince Vlad told me how the tale of how he came to be in England."

“ It began with Jonathan Harker, a man sent to Carpathia by the firm Hopkins and Thompkins. He had replaced their first agent who returned quite deranged from his encounter with the Prince. Harker completed the transactions of brokering land and business opportunities to be had in London.

Among his effects, Harker had a photograph of his betrothed, a Miss Wilhelmina Murray of London and when the Prince saw it he was convinced that she was his beloved reborn.

In hope of reuniting with her, Prince Vlad made Harker a captive in his castle, and came to London to find her, taking on the identity of ‘Count Dracula' ." The young man shifted from foot to foot, plucking at the braiding on his sleeve. "He engaged me to deliver notes and invitations to dine together that they passed between them. It was a romantic notion that I was very happy to be a party to." Tobias' eyes shone softly in the lamplight and Sasha could see as well as feel the affection in his thoughts that the young man had held for her brother. He fell silent for a moment, seeming lost in the pleasant memories.

Sasha crossed her arms and waited. This part of Vlad's story was missing from his letter, she realized. He'd only said he had found her, it had never occurred to her to wonder how it had happened. He had also not mentioned that the girl belonged to another man or that the man had been his prisoner. The steward squared his shoulders and once again met the pale blue eyes of the Countess.

"Miss Mina had a friend, Miss Lucy Westenra, who was engaged to Lord Arthur Holmwood. She fell ill and despite his best efforts seemed to fade every day. Among their friends was Dr. Seward of the Carfax Asylum, who it was said, had at one time sought to wed Miss Lucy himself. Seward called upon his mentor, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing of Vienna to come to his aid. As an expert in diseases of the blood and the paranormal, he knew almost at once what was causing the young woman's anemia, that this was no ordinary illness.” Tobias ignored the stiffening of the vampire's posture at the words “seemed to fade” and the near soundless hiss that followed the word 'anemia'.

“ Later while at the asylum, Van Helsing met an inmate named Renfield, who as it turned out was the first agent that Hopkins and Thompkins had sent to the Prince. His ravings of his ‘Master' coming for him and his craving for blood, further alerted Van Helsing and he knew that there was a vampire at large in London.”

A low growl rumbled through the corridor as Sasha listened to the plots of her brother's murderers. Remaining calm the young man continued his story. "In the meantime Harker managed to escape from the castle and sent for Mina, honor bound, she agreed to the marriage but the Prince it already won her heart."

"Harker returned to London with his bride and joined with Van Helsing in a plot to trap Prince Vlad after the death and resurrection of Miss Lucy." Tobias' eyes filled with regret his hazel eyes bored into Sasha's pale blue ones.

"Although Mina was now married to Harker, she Embraced the Prince, taking his blood. She began the Change and Van Helsing and his companions vowed to kill Dracula to save her soul and to avenge the death of Miss Lucy. With the aid of hypnosis the fiends used her to track him back to the castle after he escaped them in London."

Tobias met the burning fire in Sasha's eyes and he straightened to his full height, then with a fist over his heart, bowed deeply. "After your brother left, I returned here to take up my duties to my former Master and now would serve you as I served him. The law is of no use to us in this matter. It would be my honor to help you see that these men are punished for Count Dracula's murder."

This is better than I could have possibly hoped for. A loyal ally of Vlad's already familiar with my enemies. The Bloods had objected to her coming here alone because there was no one here who understood her special needs. She had scoffed at the idea. She had managed alone in the world for centuries. Their presence would have been a hindrance in this case.

Sasha regarded the man thoughtfully. She had scanned his mind as he spoke and she found his words untainted by deceit. Sasha was soothed by his understanding of what she intended and his consideration for her dark nature. She had no need to Bind him; he was already hers to command. In his guise as a messenger he would be able to get into places she could not. The thought pleased her immensely.

"Very well Tobias, attend me at sunset in the outer suite".

“ Countess, I have been in service to this house for many years and no one knows its secrets, or keeps them better than I do. You will not be disturbed. Follow this corridor, down the stairs, the door at the bottom opens behind the house, a few feet from the path leading to the stables."

Lifting one of the lamps from a nearby table, they entered the corridor and the panel closed behind them with a soft click. He opened the heavy door across from Sasha's bedchamber, she passed inside and after handing over the keys to the estate he closed it silently behind her.


Chapter Four


The windowless room was not large but as a place of daytime slumber it need not be. Its past use as a hideout was evident with some changes to accommodate the Countess. Directly across from the door an upholstered chaise sat before a small fireplace, a bright blaze snapping behind its iron grate. Large beeswax candles sitting on the mantle filled the room with the subtle smell of honey.

The largest of her trunks was positioned underneath the sole decoration in the room, another large tapestry, this one depicting a battle, covered the wall on the left. The luggage was upon even close inspection, simply the large ornate trunk of a world traveler. This particular item of her effects held the more comfortable male attire she wore whenever possible. It was both comforting and curious that Tobias had placed it in here.

The bottom layer of this case contained the earth she must rest in to renew herself each day. Sasha had learned the lesson of this necessary subterfuge long ago. Her resting place blended in with the rest of her luggage and none the wiser. It had kept her safe and alive more times than she'd care to admit and it was better than boxes of earth sent in advance wherever she traveled.

Tired from the journey, she was about to move toward it when a faint rustle drew her attention to the curtained bed in the opposite corner. She moved towards it and parted the heavy velvet drapes. Well it seems Tobias thought of everything. She thought with a grim smile.

A young woman wearing a maid's dress and apron lay sleeping. As the vampire watched, she stirred and her red gold hair fell away from her face. The tall woman took in the oval face, pale blonde brows and full lips. She was lovely in repose and the innocence of her sleeping in the lair of one such as Sasha was intriguing to the dark woman. She reached in shaking the girl's shoulder.

The maid sat up quickly, her pale green eyes blinked and fell upon the dark form hovering over her. The vampire watched the firm breasts heaving as the girl's breathing quickened and a sliver of tongue appeared from the full lips moistening them as blood rushed to her cheeks. Hunger burned in Sasha's belly and she felt her fangs elongate.

Flinging herself from the soft bed the girl stood with her head bowed." My lady, I crave pardon. I did not mean to fall asleep. Tobias told me to wait here and I .... I." She faltered to a stop, her whole body trembling.

Sasha's long fingers reached out grasping the girl's chin and tilted upward until their eyes met. Emerald and sapphire locked and held. A shudder went through both women as the words, It's you! slammed into Sasha's mind. Startled, she released the girl stepping back. Sasha's fangs retreated, her hunger and the coming dawn were forgotten for the moment. “What do they call you child?"

"Molly Ryan, Mistress'." The maid said slowly, shaken as the dark woman had been.

"Why did Tobias have you meet me in here ?" Sasha's eyes drank in the morsel before her. Perhaps this one can satisfy both my appetites. Her hunger rose as the picture of taking the girl in the act of feeding swept through her mind. Looking into the mist green eyes Sasha was surprised to find no fear, just a quiet determination.

With a small curtsy the young woman answered, "If it please you Countess, I am to serve in your suite as any Lady's maid. As to this chamber, it is my honor to guard its secrets with my very life."

The Countess studied the young woman who stood at the edge of her bed with a proud assurance in her bearing. The disadvantage of Sasha's way of life was her dependence on the loyalty of those who served her. She had felt the truth of Tobias' words earlier and now the same conviction was present in the girl as well.

"Come here." Sasha could feel the coming dawn tugging at her energy. Her pale eyes lit with sensual heat as Molly moved towards her, the young woman's green orbs darkening with every step. Pulling the girl into her arms Sasha turned her around, pressing her breasts into the girl's back, she began running her hands slowly up and down the trembling body.

"You know what I am." Breathless and voiceless Molly nodded.

“ Are you prepared to do all that being in service to me requires Molly?” The dark woman's voice was a low hypnotic purr.

She stroked the soft curves, feeling the pounding of Molly's heart through her caressing fingertips. Raising a hand to the maid's neck she brushed the golden locks aside revealing pale tender flesh, her tongue flicked out, tasting. Pressing her other hand to the girl's breast she squeezed. Molly arched into the caress and moaned softly, her head dropping back to rest on Sasha's shoulder.

"Yes Mistress." She whispered and pushing back, ground her hips into the taller woman. Sasha moaned, her lust surging past her hunger. She turned the girl again and swept her up into her arms. Crossing to the bed, she lay the girl down, and removed her maids costume with a swiftness that betrayed the depth of her desire.

As she lay awaiting the Countess' touch the dark power flowing from the older woman was intoxicating. Molly was well aware that Sasha was a vampire, when Tobias had enlisted her help he had told her as much. In the moment when her eyes had locked with the bottomless azure eyes of the Countess, Molly knew that all she was, all she could ever be, was Sasha's for the taking.

"Come Mistress," she held out a hand beckoning the tall woman to her side, "sunrise approaches.”

Sasha licked her lips her tongue brushing lightly across her fangs. Quickly divesting herself of her own clothes, she joined the maid on the bed, pressing her onto her back. Balancing on knees and elbows she held her body above her newest conquest. Lowering her head to the ripe breasts she grazed the hardened points with her teeth. Molly gasped and brought her hands into Sasha's midnight hair, pulling her in.

Sasha arched and slid her eager tongue across the willing young body beneath her. Moving back up she nuzzled at the inviting neck anticipating the coming feeding. She stroked gently, her hands leaving a trail of goosebumps, the bloodless chill of her fingers adding to the caress.

The cool skin of the Countess reveled in the heat of living flesh and as the blonde wrapped herself around her lean frame, she wanted more. She slid a hand down the soft belly to the nest of golden curls and dipped her fingers at last into her moist treasure.

Molly tightened her legs around her new mistress and shuddered, gasping at the sharp pain of dual penetration. Sasha's fingers were in her steaming depths, taking her maidenhead, her teeth in the arched neck seeking her life's blood.

"Yeeessss." Molly hissed arching into Sasha.

Sasha threw her head back, her first taste of virgin blood singing in her veins. Increasing the depth and speed of her long fingers she delighted in the tight grip of Molly's core and the moisture that flowed across her driving hand. As the warm blood filled her, their minds linked and Sasha felt the passion in the writhing body suddenly echoed in her own. Her pleasure, every lick, and stroke, found it's mirror in the vampire. The sensation of taking and being taken was a delicious rush tingling all along the Countess' nerves.

Sasha moaned, lowering her lips to feed again. Molly's fingernails dug into the dark woman's back urging her on. The young woman ground her hips into her mistress, riding the questing fingers. She grunted with each thrust as the rush of blood loss and pleasure assaulted her senses.

Sasha gasped as the tremors of her lover's approaching orgasm rippled through her. Quickly sliding down the sweat soaked body without stopping the pumping of her fingers; Sasha wrapped her lips around Molly's aching, twitching clitoris. Her tongue lashed at the swollen bud and she sucked it with the same fervor she had used on the girl's neck. Molly's hips thrust once, twice, then stilled, her release flowing into the devouring mouth of her Mistress. Sasha's own orgasm ripped through her as she drank in the sweet nectar and her pumping fingers caused another wave to crest in her maid.

Sasha rose up, gathering her new lover into her arms soothing her. Sasha ducked her head down, nicking her tongue with a fang and licked at the wounds on the young woman's neck, healing them. The vampire shivered as the echo of their shared passions resounded in her body. Raising her hand she tasted the crimson evidence of Molly's innocence on her fingers.

In all her long years Sasha had never taken the first fruits of any she fed upon. Her passions were usually roused and sated by the hunt. The lovers she'd had in the past were well past maidenhood when Sasha found her way to their beds. She kissed the top of Molly's head, silently thanking her for her trust.

Coupled with Molly's words ‘ It's you ' exploding in her head this small woman offered an early distraction Sasha was unprepared for. Knowing the solution would not come this night, she tossed the thought aside for later consideration as Molly settled deeper into her embrace.

Molly sighed into the neck of her Mistress, her body languid in contentment. Against all convention and even good sense she felt safe in these arms. She was lightheaded from the loss of blood and floated along on the memory of the pleasant pain of their encounter.

The moment the sapphire gaze of the vampire met hers, she remembered the ancient myth of soul mates. Separated by the gods, cast into the winds of time and fate, searching for their other half. She recalled telling her father of the beloved in her dreams. Lifetime after lifetime her soul, heart and her body had been won by a dark figure instantly recognizable by piercing blue eyes, framed in midnight hair. She shifted, wincing and realized that the ache between her thighs and especially the one in her neck, told her in ways she had never imagined, some myths are based in fact.

"Did I hurt you?" Sasha heard herself say, realizing it was the first time she'd cared to ask. Ever. After her experience with heartbreak due to Inid, she held herself aloof, satisfying her bloodlust, interested primarily in her own release, not the comfort of her partners.

"Nno.. Mistress, I feel... reborn."

Sasha sat up, pulling the girl with her and turned taking the blonde's face into her large hands. This girl was no mere Servant. The intimacy they had just shared called for something other than the usual oaths and blood exchange she sometimes bound her daytime guardians with.

"The world into which you have been reborn, Molly Ryan, is one of moonlit skies, dark pleasures and blood. I am here to avenge the death of my brother. The men responsible will die for their affront by my own hand." She ran her fingers through the honeyfire hair and tightening her grip, pinned her with deathless blue eyes. "Being a party to those deaths and sharing the passions of my blood lust will be part of your life in service to me."

The young woman simply leaned in, kissing Sasha slightly above her heart. "I am yours Mistress, whatever your need. I will go wherever your service may take me." Molly vowed conviction shining bright in her verdant eyes.

Sasha released her avowed servant and rose from the bed, going to stand at the hearth, staring down into the flames. I never would have believed it possible. Here in a land where I come seeking retribution I find not fear of me, but devotion to me and my cause. Vlad's men served out of duty, fear or the extended lifespan of a Servant of the Blood. I prefer those closest to me be there by their own will, not always as an extension of my own. The vampire turned watching the young woman as she dressed and stood with her head bowed awaiting Sasha's next command.

“ Return here with Tobias at sunset. I wish to arrange a way to meet the men who defiled my birthplace.” The Countess' eyes had darkened and a scarlet fire burned within, a cold smile turned up her lips

“ As you wish, Mistress.” Dropping a curtsy Molly turned to leave. Suddenly she spun back and crossed to Sasha. Calmly taking one of the Countess' large hands into her own, she knelt and raised it to her lips. She kissed the now warm fingers reverently.

Marveling at the gesture of devotion, Sasha's anger receded and she sighed, glad for the moment to let it go. “Go now Molly, I must rest,” she said, gently removing her fingers from the young woman's grasp. Molly stood and with a slight bob of her fair head left through the door across from the fireplace. Still nude Sasha walked over to her earthbox. Pressing the hidden latch she stepped back as the lid swung up, the rich smell of her native soil rising to caress her flared nostrils. She climbed into the welcoming nest, closing her eyes. Licking her lips and fingers, she savored the sweet taste of the young woman and sighing in rare contentment, she let the Dawn Sleep take her.


Chapter Five


Even before the sun had dipped below the western tower Sasha woke. Rising from her earthbox she noted that her dressing gown had been placed nearby. Slipping it on, she crossed back into her bedroom. The fireplace here was lit and she settled into the high-backed chair there and settled her feet on the matching ottoman. Glancing around, she saw that evening attire had been laid out as well. She smiled, thinking of the young woman who would now watch over her days.

She was waiting for my claiming. Looking into her eyes that first time it's as if I had found something I did not know I had been looking for. Sharing her pleasure, her release, I've never felt such a strong connection with anyone. Beyond what I am here to do, this girl is somehow a part of my destiny.

A shimmer of warmth passing over her skin announced Molly's arrival even before the door opened. The young woman entered the chamber with Sasha's jewelry chest in her hands. Placing it on the bed she turned to Sasha and curtsied. “Good evening, Mistress. Tobias is in the lounge waiting to give you his accounts on the men we seek.”

Sasha arched a ebony brow at the word “we.” Tobias had said much the same thing. She studied the young woman as she moved about, drawing together the small details of Sasha's ensemble. Her strawberry blonde hair was demurely styled, befitting a ladies maid. The hunter green dress she wore with its attendant apron accented her eyes and hugged her petite body. The simple lines did not fully disguise the soft curves that Sasha knew rested underneath. Without the coarse accent of the lower classes, the girl's voice was low, yet pleasant. The vampire felt her body stir once again in remembered passion. Who are you Molly Ryan and how is it that in less than a day you could touch me so deeply? Shaking off the random thought she turned her mind to business. “So it begins.”

Sasha rose and walked over to Molly, stretching out her back and running her hands through her raven hair. Molly watched the action of the fingers and remembering their touch on her body she shivered. Looking up into azure fires that captured her body and soul she opened the collar of her dress, offering herself to the dark woman. Drawing the maid into her embrace, Sasha sank her fangs in and tasted the blonde again. Sasha felt the press of Molly's hardening nipples through her dress and moaned. Wanting more but too aware of the mountain of tasks that awaited, with a healing lick, Sasha reluctantly released the girl. “What word has Tobias brought?”

Molly rearranged her clothes and led the way to the vanity. Urging Sasha into the chair there she picked up one of Sasha's ivory brushes and began the task of styling the ebony tresses. She began pinning and curling as she answered Sasha's query.

“It would seem that only the men returned from the trip to your home, my Countess. Mina Harker declined to return to England and instead is living in the convent where she and Harker were married. He says she could not bear to be in the company of the men responsible for the death of her Prince. Feeling that she was also a party to his death she remains in secluded penance.”

Sasha grunted her approval of Mina Harker's decision. She could not consider the woman her brother had loved an enemy. If she was truly Elizabetha reborn she did not wish to involve her in the events to come or reveal the well kept secret of her own existence. She stood and Molly helped her dress.

“ Tobias has the details but it seems to me that they have all tried to resume their lives, hoping to put the entire affair behind them.” She stepped back, admiring her handiwork. Sasha was as stunning in the pale blue gown as Molly knew she would be. The lace trimmed bodice curved around Sasha's full breasts and slim waist flaring out at her hips the skirt fell in soft layered waves around her long legs. A choker of sapphires graced the tall woman's neck, a poor compliment to the smoldering blue of her eyes. The midnight hair was now piled high, accenting her high cheekbones and softening the line of her jaw. She simply took Molly's breath away.

“ So they shall, until payment for their crimes comes due.” Gesturing for Molly to precede her, they went to join Tobias in the outer suite.


“ Good evening Countess,” Tobias called, stepping from the adjoining room. When Sasha and Molly entered, he was at the windows drawing the drapes closed as the last of the daylight colored the room in amber and scarlet. Stopping among the shadows, Sasha admired the details of the suite. High backed chairs and low couches were neatly arranged to take advantage of seating near the fire or the windows, with low mahogany tables alongside. Molly moved to the fire adding more fuel while Tobias lit the lamps.

Stretching her long frame out on one of the chaises in front of fire, Sasha indicated the chair next to her and Tobias sat down. Bringing a decanter of port from the sidebar, Molly poured a glass and set it on the table at the Countess' side. Gathering her skirts, she sat down on a stool at Sasha's feet. Taking a small notebook from his pocket, Tobias talked as he idly flipped the pages.

“ This is what I have managed to learn so far, Countess. Lord Arthur Holmwood returned to his estates and is still in mourning for his lost Lucy. He sees those he must for the running of his affairs, attends such functions that are in keeping with his station, but does little else but drink. Jonathan Harker retains his position at Hopkins and Thompkins brokerage and beyond a few sightings of him with Holmwood has also kept a low profile. The fact that his wife did not return to London with him has been a source of speculation throughout his circle as well as his now snow white hair.”

The young man glanced over at Sasha attempting to read the tight lines of her face at his news. Seeing her nod he continued. “Dr. Seward has returned to his work among the mad at Carfax asylum. It is said is that he too mourns Holmwood's betrothed, and soothes that pain with heavy doses of morphine.”

“ What of Van Helsing?” He will be the first to fall . Sasha rose to pace the floor. This was the man she truly came for. His knowledge of the lore and customs of her kind had been the key to uncovering Vlad's vampire weaknesses.

“ He is currently staying at an inn near the asylum. Seward, Holmwood and Harker have all visited him there, that's how I discovered that Mrs. Harker did not return to London with the others. He often studies far into the night, or sits in the tavern regaling the locals with his worldly travels and discoveries, enjoying the ignorant awe of the poor wretches that stumble in.”

Sasha stopped her pacing and turned to the young man. “You have learned much of these men and their habits, Tobias.”

Tobias stood and bowed. “I learned most of this during the time the Prince was courting Madam Mina. Later, knowing where they were was very important in my efforts when I assisted the Prince in escaping London. When they returned with the body of the American, Quincy, I knew they had won and my friend was dead. I swore then to make them pay. Until your letter came I had no real hope of vengeance. I had no proof, and the crime happened in another country. The only other person who knew of your brother's nature and the purpose of their journey to the Carpathian mountains was the now dead madman, Renfield.”

“ Prince Vlad saved my life, but more than that he was my friend and a fine gentleman. The law is no help in this case. Even if I tried to bring forth a charge of murder, who would take the word of someone of my station over Dr. Seward, Professor Van Helsing, Harker and Lord Holmwood? Anything I can do to see that these men are punished, I will do gladly.” Hearing the bitterness in his words and seeing the flash of anger in his hazel eyes, Sasha's estimation of the of the young man's commitment to her cause rose.

“ Then we must proceed with the utmost caution. Some of these men are noteworthy members of society, their deaths must seem no more than ill luck.” Sasha stated as she started pacing again. They must not see the trap even as its jaws close on them.

“ Mistress, if I may offer a suggestion?” Molly spoke up from her perch. Sasha nodded.

“ You have just arrived and will need to first establish yourself. The fall season is about to begin and a few appearances at well published gatherings can accomplish this. Social standing will require their presence at some of these functions and it will give you a discreet way to observe them.”

Molly's words made sense. A small part of Sasha's brain told her that despite her thirst for revenge she could not rush headlong into London and hunt down these men. She had been in battle and she knew the value of infiltration. Her mission's success depended greatly upon remaining undetected for as long as possible.

The picture of Molly dressed in formal wear flitted through her mind. This girl knows the nuances of the city and its culture. With her beside me I will be able to blend in much more effectively, with her by my side I will have a wise counselor and a beautiful companion as I learn my way around.

“ So be it. Tobias, you will continue to monitor the good Doctor and his friends. Molly, you will find out what events are upcoming and suitable for our purpose. Also Molly, you will accompany me at these functions as my Companion. Turn over any household duties you had to one of the other maids, you will move into the rooms across from mine as well. You will be the go between for me and the rest of the staff. My accounts at the bank will be opened to you and you will get yourself the appropriate wardrobe. Your knowledge of this city and current customs will be invaluable and I want you at my side.”

“ Mistress, you flatter me. I could never hope to fit in with such people.” The young woman responded, blushing to the roots of her honey fire hair. Molly was stunned and elated. To be able to attend the salons and galas of London's elite had been dream of hers. Such a thing was not possible for those of her station unless they were working. What the Countess was suggesting was a gift beyond price to the young woman.

“ Nonsense.” Sasha dismissed the blonde's protests with a wave of her hand. “You are well spoken and intelligent, and as an unmarried woman I would be expected to have someone to attend me, yes?” Molly nodded mutely. “Who better than one already proven worthy of my trust?” Sasha said gesturing towards the bedroom and it's hidden inner chamber.

Molly rose and moved to stand before the Countess. Once again taking one of the large hands into hers, she kissed it as she had before. Emerald eyes, their devotion clear, held Sasha's as she vowed, “I will not fail you Mistress.”

Sasha, accepting the pledge raised her other hand, the long fingers stroking lightly the place on Molly's neck that now carried a slight bruise from her bite, hidden beneath the young woman's collar.

Tobias' shifted nervously, unwilling to intrude upon the two women who seemed to have forgotten that he was even in the room. He was glad of Molly's new status. She was alone in the world, after the death of her merchant father, her mother having died bringing Molly into the world. He had known them both and he had asked his former master to take her in when the death duties from her father's estate left her nearly penniless.

In the years since, he watched over her like a brother. Molly had a warm nature and a quick and agile mind. He often found her in the estate library writing poetry, reading the paper or a book when she had time off from her duties. She was a friend and confidant, he knew he could trust her with his secrets, and by extension Countess Rossi's. Judging by the scene now before him he had been right.

Sasha stepped back from the blonde. Discussing the downfall of her enemies had brought her predatory nature to the forefront of her being. The call for blood was loud in her veins and she knew Molly's gentle surrender would not be enough to slake her thirst this night. She also knew that enduring too much of her Mistress' is attentions in that area would be debilitating for the young woman.

“ This night marks the beginning of our dark venture. You know what needs to be done, see to it. I will meet the rest of the staff and tour the estate tomorrow.” She said. Walking over and parting the curtains, the vampire watched as dusk gave way to darkness over the gardens. Tobias pocketed his notebook and bowed to Sasha.

“ The estate has been plagued of late with poachers my lady. Should you care to join the gamekeeper and I in tracking them down, I could introduce you to him tonight. Any misfortune that befalls these parasites could certainly be seen as the new owner of this estate taking things in hand.”

Sasha's cocked an ebony brow at the young man. “I can see why Vlad was confident of your discretion Tobias.” As a rule, Sasha chose to hunt those who preyed on their fellow humans. The shadowed streets of many a city had been witness to nights when these brutal men discovered with their last breath there was something more dangerous in the dark than they were. “I would be most pleased to meet the gamekeeper. I will join you at the stables.”

Almost out the door, Molly quickly turned back at Sasha's words, concern filling the jade eyes. Sasha offered a small smile to the young woman. “Have no fear, little one. They cannot harm me.”


Chapter Six


Sasha threw her cloak around her shoulders and stepped out of the hidden passageway and into the night, finding herself behind the tall hedges at the back of her house. She followed the gravel path towards the buildings she could see in the distance. A light fog had gathered and it swirled around her boots, caught in the breeze of her passing. She shook her now unbound hair out of her eyes and licked her lips in anticipation of the upcoming hunt. Voices reached her ears and she followed the sounds to the stables where she found Tobias talking to an older man. Both men were armed and each carried a lantern. The older man turned at Sasha's approach and removing his hat bowed low to the dark woman. “Countess,” said Tobias. “This is Giles Rathbun your gamekeeper.”

Rathbun was a hand span taller than Sasha's 6 foot height and the broad shoulders and large roughened hands spoke of a life lived out of doors. His weathered face was kind though and his gray eyes twinkled from beneath bushy salt and pepper brows. Running a hand through his white streaked black hair he gestured toward Tobias and speaking in a deep baritone told the Countess, “My lady, the lad and I was just discussin' where the latest poaching signs were found. If you want we can start from there.”

If he wondered at Sasha's decision to join them, or the fact that she was wearing very unladylike trousers he gave no sign. When Tobias told him of the addition of the new Mistress of the manor to the hunt he had not been as surprised as the young man thought.

Giles had seen the stallion the woman rode in on. The saddle was not some gentlewoman's frilly side saddle. It was the tack, well worn but cared for, of a long time horsewoman. The gamekeeper knew that the Countess was no stranger to the pursuit of prey .

Sasha smiled. It had been some time since she had hunted in the deep woods. A soft sigh passed her full lips. Here were armed miscreants, despoiling her lands. She could almost smell the pungent fear-sweat of her victims, taste the blood seasoned with their terror. “Take us there Giles, let these be the first to learn what befalls those who earn Countess Rossi's displeasure.”

“ As you say my Lady.” He turned and started for the woods. They walked in a single file, Tobias bringing up the rear.

“ How long have you been the gamekeeper here Giles?” At the softly spoken question, Giles slowed, until Sasha was beside him. “10 years, my lady since my father retired. The Rathbun men have served as gamekeepers since before my grandfather's time. It was my father's and now my pride to watch over these lands. This estate is rich with game and there are those who think such as we will not miss a few deer.” He let out a short bark of laughter at the notion. “Not on my watch.” He growled in an undertone, not surprised when Sasha echoed it.

He discreetly observed the cloak shrouded form next to him, her footfalls a mere whisper in his ears. Countess Rossi seemed to have become part of the night. Unencumbered by endlessly rustling skirts, she moved through the thickening fog with deadly grace. Giles' opinion of highborn women went up several notches. He continued on, telling her of the estate's layout and it's various features.


Sasha nodded absently, only half listening to the gamekeeper's words. Her senses were attuned to the forest. The soft crunch of dead leaves at their feet, the murmur of the wind in the treetops, the calls and grunts of nocturnal creatures, all were identified and dismissed as she embraced the darkness around her.

At last, they entered a small clearing on the northern quarter of the estate. Her nostrils flared at the smell of blood from the butchered deer. Sasha's low growl startled her companions and they each took an unconscious step away from her. Giles walked over to the remains of a small fire pit, then stood, his lantern low to detect any sign of the direction the poachers had taken. “Looks to be a group of five,” he knelt down again, “no lady make that six.” He amended as he walked along examining the tracks in the low light.

Walking in an ever widening circle he moved closer to the tree line. “One group of four is heading east, the other two look to be moving towards the marsh farther to the north. We'll have to split up to track them all tonight, Countess.”

“ Tobias stay with Giles and go east. I will deal with the two in the bog,” Sasha commanded.

“ But lady shouldn't one of us come with you? These are desperate men and you....” Tobias protest trailed off as Sasha turned toward him her pale eyes glowing with predatory brilliance .

“ I have been dealing with scum such as the these for far longer than you have been alive. Your concern is admirable but unnecessary”. Her tone brooked no argument.

The vampire's nostrils flared once again as she tasted the air, her full lips curling upwards with a low snarl that raised the hair on the back of the young man's neck. Tobias marveled at her focus watching her study the prints Giles had found. The fog swirled around Sasha as she dropped to knee, a casual toss of her head flung her dew kissed ebony mane back over her shoulder. The Countess looked as wild as the forest that surrounded them.

Tobias looked over at Giles. The gamekeeper's gray eyes had rounded at Sasha's display of ferocity and the young man's argument died on his lips. It is the poachers who will be the hunted in the wood this night, he realized and trembled at the knowledge. After agreeing to regroup at the stables the two men departed.


Sasha watched as the fog swallowed her companions. Waiting until their footsteps faded completely she dropped to the ground and shifted to her wolf form. Her transformation took only seconds and then a longlegged black predator circled the camp once. Catching the trail of her quarry and their ill gotten bounty was easy for her lupine senses and she found herself salivating. Suppressing the urge to howl, she set out after her prey in a ground eating lope.

Hidden in the shadows and mist at the edge of the marsh Sasha lay panting as she listened to the drunken whispers of the poachers. The two men sat huddled together, the stolen venison ensconced between two trees on a long pole over their heads. Their weapons leaned against the tree at their backs and Sasha could smell the bottle they were arguing over. After a few minutes of observation while she caught her breath Sasha reclaimed her human form and moved towards them keeping out of sight, but making as much noise as she could snapping off branches as she crashed about.

“ Help me! Is there anyone out there? Please help!” She called out in a high frightened voice.

“ What's that, who's out there?” The older and taller of the men leaped to his feet. Tossing aside the rum bottle he snatched up his weapon, peering into the fog.

“ Please, I've lost my way. Is there anyone there?” Sasha called out again.

“ Hey Willie!” Cried the younger man, staggering to his feet. “That's a woman!”

“ Shush ya fool! Whut would a woman be about in these woods at this time o' the night?” He laid a cautioning hand on his friend's shoulder, pulling him back to the tree.

Shrugging off the restraining grip the younger man grabbed the rum bottle and taking a final pull on it said, “Well let's get her over here and ask her!” With a drunken giggle he plowed into the fog. “Hey this way love, we'll gi' ye a hand!” He shouted.

“ Danny! Get back here right now!” Willie reached out for his friend grasping only air. “Danny?”

“ Danny! You out there?”

Willie gripped his weapon tighter and straining his ears, heard nothing. The stillness of the bog set his heart to pounding and he backed up slowly, casting his eyes in every direction, until he was pressed against the tree where the deer meat hung.

A soft sound of female contentment rose out of the swirling mists. The sound caused a chill that chased a trickle of sweat down the poacher's back. Willie snatched up the lantern swinging it left and right trying to pinpoint where the sound had come from. “Danny, you out there?” He called again softly.

“ No, not Danny.”

His head snapped around and stepping out of the darkness was a woman like none he had ever seen. She was tall and midnight hair tumbled around her shoulders, damp with fog. The swell of her breasts could be seen despite the heavy cloak she wore. In the light of his lantern, he met her pale blue eyes and they held him fast. Full lips smiled beguilingly and Willie's weapon and the lantern clattered to the ground, Danny all but forgotten.


“ I am the Countess Sasha Rossi. This estate now belongs to me. There is a price for hunting on my lands.” Her eyes flicked to the purloined venison hanging behind him. “What shall I have in payment for what you have taken?” Stepping closer, her eyes traced a path down his body. Willie found himself lost in the cobalt depths of her eyes and his fear melted away as his body responded to her penetrating gaze.

“ I got something here ye might like in trade.” He said, stroking himself with one hand, he reached for Sasha with the other. Willie kissed the dark woman roughly along her neck pulling at her cloak, he bared her chest. Sasha allowed the man his pleasure for a few moments then gripped him by his hair, forcing his head up, his eyes once again meeting hers.

The poacher's mind snapped seeing the smoldering blue depths of her eyes begin to burn with a demonic scarlet light. The woman's teasing smile had turned into a snarl revealing her gleaming fangs. Willie saw that he held in his arms not a willing diversion but the agent of his death. The poacher began to scream and Sasha's grip on his hair tightened. “What you have in your pants is of no interest to me.” Lowering her lips to feed she purred, “My due is in your veins.”


Chapter Seven


Returning to the stables Sasha found Tobias standing guard over the four remaining poachers. The men were tied up back to back, sitting cross-legged on the ground. Giles was busy piling the stolen venison on a cart he had brought out from the barn.

“ Countess! We were beginning to worry! Are you all right? Did you find them?” Tobias' questions tumbled out of his mouth in near weeping relief at Sasha's arrival.

Pulling a stray bramble from her cloak, Sasha ignored Tobias' outburst, walking over to peer down at the huddled poachers. She made eye contact with each one, her gaze fierce with anger. Fear for their lives was evident as every man was pinned by her furious blue glare. In her homeland Sasha would not have bothered to have brought them back at all. As trespassers, their lives were forfeit, she would have hunted them all into the ground.

“ I am perfectly fine as you can see, Tobias.” She snapped, her eyes never leaving the bound men at her feet. “ Their two companions were not so fortunate however. In their desire to escape justice they chose the dangers of a fog covered marsh. I heard their death cries as the wolf took them”. The vampire's pale eyes gleamed in the lantern light and the men shuddered at the pleasure she took in their terror. “They will not trouble these lands again.” Her icy gaze found Tobias, the message clear.

“ As you say, Countess.” Knowing full well that there were no wolves on the estate, Tobias hid the tremble of fear his understanding of Sasha's words had caused. The first accounting of his vow of service had come. Proof that he was equal to the task fell from his lips without tremor. “Giles and I will contact the Magistrate and these men will receive the full punishment that the law allows.”

With a curt nod Sasha turned to glare once more at her captives, and then she slipped into the darkness. She strode back to the mansion, entering through the front door, calling for one of the downstairs servants to send Molly to her suite.

The vampire entered her rooms, flinging down her sodden cloak, going to the windows she pulled back the drapes staring unseeing out into the garden, contemplating her next course of action based on Tobias' information on her enemies.

Fitting into London society would be no real challenge. She had made a point of living among the peoples of the various lands she had visited. When the grandparents of the so called elite of this city were little more than peasants themselves, she had feasted on the blood of noble ladies in the darkened galleries, moonlit gardens and high towers of Vlad's castle and many others. None suspected her true nature and those who discovered it went to their graves with the secret on their bloodless lips. With Molly to tutor her in current English custom she had no doubt about her ability to blend in once again.

At that moment, lit by the soft glow of the fire and lamps in the room, Molly's reflection appeared on the window, driving all thoughts of vengeance out of the vampire's mind. Dressed in a high collared deep green dressing gown, her honey colored hair tumbled across the front, framing her breasts in scarlet gold. Across her arm were several towels and Sasha's blue dressing gown. The young woman ran her gaze over the Countess' lean frame from top to bottom assuring herself that her Mistress had come to no harm in the wood. Satisfied, she lifted eyes filled with a warmth that sent a jolt through the tall woman.

Over the centuries, Sasha had had several Servants. These young women watched over her daylight slumber, attended to her estates, and when necessary fed her from their own veins. Devoted as they were, their eyes had never met hers once with such honest affection. Molly's sincere acceptance of every aspect of the Countess gave the vampire a freedom she had not expected in this land of strangers. The young woman's gold flecked emerald eyes shone not only with affection, but with concern, and a touch of desire. Sasha was hard pressed to recall a time when anyone had looked her in such a loving way. Perhaps I shall find more in England than revenge for my brother.

“ Welcome home Mistress. A bath awaits you, something to warm you after the chill of the wood.” The small blonde curtsied and the front of her robe fell open revealing a soft curve of breast that warmed the vampire immediately.


Sasha released a low chuckle and moved towards the door, gesturing for Molly to precede her. “You have been quite adept with useful suggestions today Molly. I commend your diligence.”


When Sasha entered the bathing chamber, her eyes lit upon a silk draped tub long enough for the Countess' lean frame, the subtle fragrance of sandalwood rising from the steamy waters. The tub was white porcelain set in a polished brass frame with four clawed feet. The young woman had placed a small pillow at its head and a basin on the floor so Sasha could lie back when the girl washed her long black hair.

Setting down her burdens Molly turned to Sasha and began helping her out of her damp garments. As the taller woman's skin was revealed the blonde trailed kisses all across the blood warmed flesh. When the last of her clothing hit the floor, Sasha leaned in her lips barely brushing Molly's ear, spoke in a sensual whisper. “Join me.”

Sasha sank into the fragrant water with a soft sigh. Looking up at her new companion Sasha suppressed a moan at the carnal glint in the young woman's eyes. Molly dropped her robe and entered the tub, kneeling between the tall woman's legs.

Picking up the washcloth she began to run it across the tall woman's broad shoulders and Sasha lay back enjoying the sensations of Molly's hands on her skin. The tension in her body slipped away at each stroke and her eyes drifted shut, and a rumbling purr that Molly could feel as well as hear escaped her full lips.

Tension of an altogether different sort rose in the vampire as Molly's attentions dropped to her breasts floating just below the surface of the water. Opening her indigo eyes a mere slit the Countess said, “If you keep that up, this will be a very short bath.”

Sasha's eyes snapped open the rest of the way when Molly's whispered words reached her ears. “My thoughts this day were filled with the memory of your embrace, your kiss.” Following her confession with a squeeze on Sasha's now rock hard nipples she raised her eyes to meet the vampire's, surprised at her own boldness.

Sasha looked deep into the olive green orbs, the heat of the water no match for the firestorm in the young woman's eyes. The older woman found her mind awash in the ripples of the blonde woman's rising passion and her body arched towards the object of its desire.

Their lips met and the scented water around them swirled as Molly wrapped her legs around the dark woman who had claimed her. Sliding her hand down the girl's writhing back Sasha gripped the small waist and in one smooth movement rose dripping from the water.

Kissing the girl all the way she carried the blonde into her bedroom and sat on the curtained bed, Molly's warm thighs still hugging her hips, the girl's fingers tangled in Sasha's midnight hair. Sliding one hand between them she softly stroked young woman's damp curls enjoying the slippery skin, knowing the moisture had not all come from the bath. “Is this what you want, little one?”

Molly opened her mouth and invited the vampire in, giving her own tongue in exchange because the sensations building in her body were making forming words impossible. None were needed. Sasha reached up with her other hand and pulled loose the girl's grip on her mane and guided the small hand to her own center. Breaking off the kiss she drew back, indigo fire looking into the smoky jade heat of the eyes inches away. “Touch me Molly.”

Molly's fingers dipped into Sasha's dark triangle and when her fingers reached the vampire's opening, Sasha matched her movements and they entered each other, the sensation causing both women to throw back their heads and moan. Molly gripped Sasha's shoulder and with the Countess' long fingers buried inside her began a slow rock, each thrust of her hips punctuating her strokes into Sasha's soaking depths. Sasha leaned in and began licking and tasting the salty passion sweat on the neck of the blonde in her lap.

Molly grabbed the vampire's head bringing Sasha's mouth to the place where she had bitten her earlier. Her lost voice found its way to Sasha's ear. “Please Mistress. I crave your kiss.” She panted. Increased wetness flowed across Sasha's driving fingers as she complied with the request and the girl's warm blood filled her senses once again. Sasha drank deep and Molly gasped, her pleasure flavoring every crimson surge. As before, their passions blended and they fell into a primal rhythm that drove their entwined bodies.

Sasha drew out her fangs, knowing her release was upon her, wanting to see the rapture on Molly's face when she came. She thrust hard into the girl, turning them both quickly so that the young woman lay beneath her. As Molly's hand filled her, Sasha curled her fingers up stroking the velvety spot she knew would send Molly over. At the moment of climax their eyes locked and they fell together into the vortex, the vampire dropping her head for a final healing lick to Molly's wounds.

Sasha shifted and curled her body around the smaller woman, drawing her closer and nuzzling the blonde head under her chin. Molly encircled the long torso with her still trembling arms and buried her neck in the dark woman's shoulder. With a soft kiss on the girl's crown, for the first time since she became a vampire, Sasha drifted to sleep with someone in her arms.


Chapter Eight


In the months that followed, Countess Sasha Rossi and her companion Molly Ryan became a familiar sight at the entertainments of London. The efforts of both Molly and Tobias provided Sasha with an invitation to many of the various balls, salons, and theater gatherings of the fall Season.

They mingled with the intellectuals too, evenings spent in lively debate, where Sasha discovered her well read young companion had the ability to hold her own against even the most boorish snobs. Sasha had even played hostess at the estate, bringing in a string quartet to entertain her guests with the latest composition from a local musician.

Christmas had come and gone and it was to Sasha, time to move against her prey. They had managed to make social contact with Harker, Holmwood and Seward but getting to Van Helsing had proven to be problematic. Newly appointed as a guest lecturer with a residence on the University grounds, put him out of Sasha's easy reach. Stubborn in her insistence to take Van Helsing out of the picture first, Sasha began to plan for a more direct approach. Turning away from the window the tall woman headed towards her study when she was halted by Tobias' appearance in the doorway of the suite.

The young man had a bright smile on his face and an envelope in his hand. Striding forward he held it out to Sasha and when she took it he gave a short bow and in his best courtly voice pronounced, “Countess Sasha Rossi, Professor Abraham Van Helsing wishes to humbly extend an invitation to you to attend his final lecture at the University. The subject of his discourse will be: Myths and Folklore; The Facts and the Fiction. He has heard of your interest in the subject and would be pleased if you would attend. He was hoping he might cross intellectual swords with your gracious self at the reception afterwards before he returns to his native Vienna.”

Sasha's face broke into a cold smile as she scanned the invitation. Turning away from the young man she tapped her chin with the document and began to pace the room. “Send word that I accept the good Doctor's invitation.” His last lecture in London or anywhere else for that matter”. Stopping her restless motion she turned to the young man. “How is he leaving the city?” She asked, knowing Tobias would have gotten all the details. “He has hired a carriage to take him to the port of Graves End, where he will board a ship to France and then on to Vienna by train.” The young man replied.

Here at last was the opportunity she had been waiting for. Many things could happen to a traveler on the dark roads of England at night. Here was a hunt worthy of the name. Graves End indeed. Tomorrow night you will give my brother his first tribute old man. There was quite a bit of wild area between London and Graves End. She could intercept him far from prying eyes and none the wiser. This would take her far from the estate however; she would need a place to go to ground as she likely would not be able to get back to London before sunrise.

“ Tobias, you and Molly will leave tonight and acquire rooms in one of the inns in Graves End and await my arrival.” The blonde walked into the suite as Sasha spoke. “I will attend the lecture and watch the good Doctor enjoy his last bit of glory in this world. I will meet him on the road later to send them into the next.”

Molly sat on the edge of Sasha's chaise partly to listen to Sasha's plans and also to keep her legs from shaking. From time to time the blonde had allowed herself illusion that her Countess had no other agenda in London except that of the world traveler they had created as a cover for her true mission. They had become, to her mind at least, much more than the roles they had taken on before the public than she had imagined possible. The life she and Sasha had was worth protecting, her lover's vampire nature was the least of all the reasons she loved the dark haired beauty across the room. The time of reckoning had come at last and though dire times lay ahead, the blonde was ready for the fight to begin.


With his departure from the insular safety of the University, Van Helsing's fate was sealed. Here was the chance to be rid of him for once and for all. The young woman did not know which worried her more, the confrontation with Van Helsing or Sasha being away from the safety of the estate.

Molly watched as the Countess' pale eyes darkened into the violet hue that heralded the rise of the Hunter in Sasha. A flush of desire swept through her at the sight. She shifted on her seat, adjusting her skirts, fanning the hem out in an attempt to cool the stirring in her loins. The blonde loved it when Sasha took her hard and fast. Or slow and gentle as she did last night in the library, the book Sasha had been translating for her tossed aside. Most of all though, the young woman loved it when Sasha returned to the estate after hunting. The feral energy radiating from the older woman created a craving so fierce that Molly willingly gave herself over to the vampire's hunger, and her own. The merchant's daughter felt no shame or remorse in her embrace of the pleasures that had begun when the dark woman woke her the first night months ago. Her life as the Countess' Companion called upon the young woman to do and accept things she never knew she would but her greatest joy was her role as Sasha's lover.

The fluttering of Molly's dress touched Sasha's hunt sharpened senses and she caught the scent of Molly's arousal and smiled to herself. The vampire's thoughts turned from Van Helsing's demise to her lover's response to the Blood lust this evening's hunt would inspire in an instant. Their nights of pleasure were varied and often, yet there was an added spice when the Countess cooled the fire of her blood passions in Molly's humid embrace.

One night in particular….

Molly was at the hearth staring into the fire when her dark lover entered the room. Sasha's raven hair was pulled back into a long braid tucked under a wool watch cap and she was dressed in the rough cut dark trousers and shirt that denoted a night of hunting London's darker streets. When their eyes met Molly's pulse began to pound, her mind filled with an odd mixture of fear, worry and to the dark woman's surprise, a rising passion.

Feeling the strange combination of emotions in the young woman made her curious as to the cause. Her eyes flicked to the end table and caught the headlines of Molly's abandoned newspaper.

Sasha considered Jack the Ripper worthy prey but so far he had managed to elude even her paranormal senses. It was fortunate that her companion could not read her thoughts. Molly would be terrified to learn that Sasha had been on the trail of the Ripper the night Bloody Jack had killed two women.

That night the first murder had nearly been foiled by Sasha herself. The vampire begun to shift in and out of her wolf form as she hunted him: his scent was familiar now and her keener lupine smell and added speed had made tracking him easier. She had trailed her quarry to the site but avoiding the increased police patrols had separated her from the Ripper and she was only able to spare Elizabeth Stride the aftermath experienced by poor Catherine Eddowes. In the ensuing chaos she herself had to flee the area.

She was filled with anticipation this night. It had been nearly two months since the last murders. With the exception of letters the Ripper was supposed to have sent to the newspapers the nights of Whitechapel had been free of dismembered prostitutes. She knew the craving to kill must surely be rising in him. The vampire understood that craving: it required blood to satisfy and all other pursuits became secondary.

She had been right; she found his trail almost immediately. The dark streets and swirling fog hid her as she slid in and out of the shadows of the November evening. Harlots and their customers coupled in the dank alleys and side streets paying little heed to her as she tracked her quarry. The Ripper's absence since the double murder had sent the painted women back to their trade, all hoping he had ceased his winnowing of their ranks.

The smell of fresh spilled blood sent Sasha hurrying towards an area known as Miller's Court. She found him in number 13, up to his elbows in Mary Jane Kelly's blood. The dark woman's pale eyes swept the room taking note of a cab driver's whip, coat and hat set to one side of the room on a chair. Here at last was the secret of his success. No one would suspect the presence of such a man in this area nor would the women think him a threat. He had hidden in plain sight. He was sorting through the viscera when Sasha slipped through the door. He turned as she entered bloody blade still gripped in his fist. Even a battle hardened the warrior like Sasha found the Ripper's treatment of this victim shocking. Her resolve solidified and she stalked toward him the smell of blood making her fangs elongate. She forced them back, her hiss of indignation pressing her lips into a grim line.

“Who the hell are you and what do ya think yer doin' here?” He asked holding the bloody knife before him. His thoughts were chaos still held in thrall to the murder but armed as he was he saw her as a no real threat.

“Who I am matters little. As to what I'm doing here, it will soon become apparent.” Crossing the filthy room in two powerful strides she seized the arm holding the knife in one hand and slammed his head into his victim's bloody death bed, knocking him unconscious. Throwing his surprisingly muscular body over her shoulder, wrapped in her cloak, she slipped into the courtyard, looking around for any observers. This was habit only; the denizens of this area had learned to look the other way, because it was safer. Using his cab, Sasha quickly made her way to the docks where one of her ships was berthed.

Clouding the minds of the men on watch she took her burden below decks and into one of the cargo holds. He had begun to stir as she laid him on the ground, unrolling him from her cape which she tossed aside. She burn it later, colored with Kelly's blood, she did not think she could ever bear to wear it again. She stood back and studied him.

Appropriate for his chosen nighttime occupation, he was nondescript in every way. He was shorter than her, medium length unremarkable brown hair and average features. Apart from the muscularity of his chest and arms, not a thing about him would make him stand out. He could be anyone and no one. He was wearing a butcher's apron over a dark suit. The color, a rusty brown, concealed the bloodstains, confirming for Sasha how he had been able to remain undetected after his crimes; it was the same reason she also wore dark colors when she hunted. Though even those she killed in battle never looked like what they had left cooling on the table in Miller's Court.

Part of her was revolted by him another part was impressed at his ability to avoid being caught given the time it must have taken to affect his dissection of the women he killed. He woke and rolled to his feet in one motion. The vampire stepped back watching him as he searched around him for a weapon. She spared a moment to scan his thoughts. Mostly they were concerned with escape, but who she was and how he had gotten here took up the rest.

“There is no escaping this place. Here is where you will die for the crimes you have committed against the women of Whitechapel” she informed him.

“Those slatterns were not women!” he spat, “Foul creatures polluting the streets, spreading disease as well as their legs!”

“What do you care about a few dead whores?”

His muddy brown eyes assessed her and his lips curled in distaste at the trousers she wore. “Are you one of those unnatural females who lust after your own sex? Do you think yourself a man because you dress like one? You too are an affront to God!” With those words, he attacked so swiftly that Sasha found herself unprepared and hit the floor his hands at her throat. If Sasha had needed to breathe, she would have found herself another of the Ripper's victims. The vampire set her legs and prepared to make short work of this vile man. It had not been easy.

She had thrown herself forward breaking his grip with sharp blows on his upper arms. Continuing her momentum she rose to her feet and with a shove sent him stumbling across the deck. The Ripper snatched up her abandoned cloak and flung it, he followed arms outstretched, hoping to bind her in its folds. She ducked and met his charge, sending him to the floor once again. Back and forth they struggled across the hold. Neither getting the upper hand until at last Sasha, sensing his exhaustion dodged another rush tripping him, taking the Ripper down one final time. The dark woman straddled him and forming her hand into a dagger broke through his sternum, shattering his ribs and puncturing his heart. She fed, savoring her victory over a worthy adversary and healing the wounds he had managed to inflict.

When she returned to the estate she had pulled Molly to her day sanctuary and gave no quarter in the release of her bloodlust. She had taken the young woman for the first time with the phallus she wore when in her male attire.

She tied the girl to the posts of the bed face down, posing her just so; her mind only on the angle she wanted and the wetness pouring out of the captive blonde. Using her fingers Sasha had stretched Molly's entrance, pumping her with a force she had never used before. Satisfied at last, the vampire then gripped her companion's hips and settling between her parted thighs and closed her eyes at the sensations as she filled Molly again and again with the thick toy, eight inches of hungry leather covered ivory. The sound of flesh slapping and their cries of pleasure had been the only sounds in the room. Her passions crested many times and the flood of Molly's repeated release kept the phallus well lubricated.

The vampire paused only once in her vigorous assault on her young lover. She released her hands and turned the young woman's body over. Raising Molly's legs she had spread them wide. Pulling the sweat covered ass onto her thighs she had tipped her hips and this new angle thrilled her. It allowed her to pinch Molly's pert nipples this time watching as the phallus disappeared into the girl's willing wetness. With a growl the vampire drove deeper and deeper, the inner pulses of Molly's impaled flesh encouraging her. To her further carnal delight, she locked her ankles behind the vampire's neck, matched Sasha's every thrust. They had climaxed together and Sasha had collapsed over the young woman's body spent at last.

Molly met the fierce gaze of her lover, rose and entered the bedroom. Moving to a small trunk next to the wardrobe, she removed a medium sized bag, checked the contents and then stowed it next to the door. Turning as the tall woman entered the room, Molly noted the lingering feral gleam in Sasha's sapphire eyes. She met it with one of her own and without a word began stripping out of her clothes.

Chapter Nine


“ Giles follow that coach.” Sasha ordered in a low voice as she slipped into the back of her waiting carriage. Following at a discreet distance they trailed Van Helsing's coach through dark city streets. Reaching under the seat she pulled out the bag Molly had hidden there and changed out of her gown and into what the young woman affectionately called Sasha's hunting clothes. For disguise and mobility the vampire preferred men's clothing and wore it exclusively when she hunted. The black shirt, vest, trousers and boots that Molly had provided suited her mood this evening. Shrugging her cloak around her and leaning back she went over the evening in her mind as the city disappeared behind her.

In the University's lecture hall, Sasha had placed herself on one of the lower tiers, with an unobstructed view of the architect of her brother's death. Professor Van Helsing stood behind a podium with various books, their attendant notes sticking out of them, piled haphazardly on top. Several diagrams were displayed on an easel to his right.

Van Helsing was an older man; his full head of silvered hair was combed back from his forehead brushing the bottom of his neatly starched collar. Smooth gray eyebrows sheltered the intense cornflower blue eyes that bulged slightly in the round face and that powerful gaze constantly scanned the room as he held forth on his area of expertise. Sasha took in the apparent vigor of the man as he strolled between the podium and his easel. His robust frame filled out a simple dark brown tweed suit with matching shoes and a silver watch chain glinted in the light as he moved about.


Having traveled extensively herself, Sasha was familiar with most of the material he presented, though she could have cared less about the content of the presentation. She was here only to mark his face in her eye, his smell in her nostrils, to study him before she met him on the road. Suddenly Sasha's attention was brought back to the lecture with a jolt. Van Helsing was now speaking on a subject she knew with an intimacy shared by no other person gathered in the hall.


He ended his discourse with “Death of the Dragon”. Sasha brought to bear her skill at schooling her features and did not to let her mounting fury show in her eyes as she listened to his account of the murder of her brother. The story began as all from Sasha's homeland knew it, with Prince Vlad's pact with the Church to lead their army against the invading Turks. Later in a bid to remain in power and spurned by the very church he had defended, he made a pact with Evil. The Prince lived on centuries after his death by feeding on the blood of the living.


Van Helsing told his spellbound audience how he tapped into the telepathic connection Mina Harker had with Dracula and tracked the Prince to his mountain castle. His narrative spelled out in detail the methods of destruction he used on the vampire Brides and his attempt to purge Mina Harker of the vampire's influence. He ended the tale with a race to sunset and the loyal Blood Guard's failed attempt to defend their dark Master. Later, Sasha had contented herself with conjuring images of Van Helsing's death at her hands in her mind to get herself through the reception.


The city was hours behind them when Sasha rapped on the roof of the carriage and Giles pulled over to the side of the road. When the Countess stepped to the ground, no trace of the cultured woman that had attended the lecture remained. A dark hunter stood in her place watching Van Helsing's coach disappear over a hill. Turning back to the tall man still perched on the carriage Sasha said, her pale blue eyes bright with the chase, “Return to the estate Giles. I will return with Molly and Tobias tomorrow evening.”

“ As you say Countess.” The gamekeeper replied. Working for the Countess had included duties far different than Giles had anticipated. He took on the role of footman tonight because when the dark woman took over the estate, she'd trimmed the staff considerably.

In the first month, the coach attendants and most of the household staff were given a generous severance stipend, a reference letter and sent on their way. Molly directed the remaining staff with discretion as their watchword. While he was still officially the gamekeeper, fox hunts and the like were no longer en vogue, replaced by afternoon teas in the newly built gazebo at the edge of the formal gardens adjacent to the mansion. The only hunting was done by the Countess. Tipping his hat he turned the rig around and headed back to the estate. “Safe journey my Lady.” He whispered as the night swallowed her up.

Sasha waited until the sound of the carriage faded into the night and shifting to her lupine form, she loped after the professor's carriage . When she was satisfied with the remoteness of the area she let loose the hunting cry of a wolf. The driver lost control as the fear of the predator sent his team into panicked flight. Darting around and in front of the coach she harassed the animals until at a bend in the road the axle broke and the beasts and their burden parted company. Dragged from his perch the driver crashed to earth, the snap of his neck breaking lost in the tumbling roar of the coach smashing into a tree.

Sasha shifted form once again and stood back waiting for the wreckage to settle. Her ears caught the sounds of her quarry attempting to free himself. His moan of pain brought a wide smile to her lips. Stumbling out onto the road Van Helsing looked around him in shocked silence. His hair and clothes were in disarray and blood trickled from a number of cuts. The coach gave one last shudder and he was pelted by books and papers as the wreck canted to one side. The driver's kerosene lantern swung back and forth surprisingly undamaged. It's pale light cast shifting shadows over the woods and the road, the only light for miles around.

Running a shaking hand through his disheveled hair the Professor took stock of his situation and sighed. He could see first of all that the horses were long gone and knew at a glance that the unnatural angle of the driver's head meant that he was alone. He was quite surprised to find this was not the case. His deep blue eyes widened in shock as Sasha stepped out of the trees.

“ Countess' Rossi? My good lady what are you doing out here? Do you have your coach with you? It seems that my conveyance has met with some difficulty.” His words came out in a tumbling rush and he tried to smile to lighten the moment wincing as the movement widened the gash on his cheek.

“ No. Professor Van Helsing, we are quite alone here. I wanted an opportunity to discuss with you the portion of your lecture you called 'Death of the Dragon'. I had hoped to clear up some points that you seem to be unaware of.”

Sasha stepped closer to the man, the smell of his blood almost too much to resist. While the idea of feeding on this man was out of the question, the craving to kill him was making her tremble. Her eyes narrowed to azure slits and a soft growl passed her full lips. “I have knowledge of a truth about Dracula that no book has ever contained”.

The Doctor noted the tall woman's demeanor had become more menacing and he knew the beginnings of real fear. At first he had been relieved to see a somewhat familiar face, hoping the Countess could keep him from an unpleasant night on the road. But now... There was a familiar darkness burning in the brunette's eyes and he saw at last what all of London society and he himself had failed to discern.

“ Nosferatu!” He cried, backing away.

“ Very good Professor, go to the head of the class.” Her eyes flashed red and tracked him as he looked around for a weapon. “Prince Vlad was my dearly loved brother. I'm here to collect the blood debt that you owe.” She purred.

Van Helsing's bolted for the wreckage cursing at his strewn luggage, their contents invisible in the dark. Sasha advanced on him her fangs bared in the dim light of the sputtering lantern. Abandoning his search, Van Helsing groped at his chest, pulling a crucifix from under his shirt and waved it at his stalker.

“ Back fiend of Hell, the Devil take you!” He cried, edging away towards the vain hope of safety on the road. The vampire threw her head back and laughed. “You have read too many of the wrong myths it you think that bauble will stop me .” Closing the distance between them with paranormal speed, the dark woman grabbed the icon by the chain and ripping it off, sent it sailing into the shadows.

“ You said in your lecture that Vlad was a creature of evil, a monster to be destroyed. Not everything is told or truth in your books, old man.” Gripping him around the throat her arm flexed and she slammed him into the nearest tree.

“ Where in your research was the part of Vlad's story that tells of the devout warrior who was robbed of his dearest love fighting for his country and his God. That it was the pain of that loss and the Church's condemnation of her that turned him into the demon you described in your quaint little presentation.”

The vampire shook her captive, deftly avoiding his kicking feet. “Then, after centuries of loneliness, when he at last found her redeeming love once more, you and your allies came to separate them again! ” Their blue eyes bored into each other, his defiant, hers dark pits of anger. “ Professor Van Helsing you are the monster.”

With a snarl Countess Rossi threw the man into the twisted wood of the wreckage. Taking up the lantern she swung it back and forth as she approached her victim. The Professor struggled to rise but she planted a booted foot into his chest, knocking the wind out of him. She kicked away several slats of the wood from the shattered coach taking them out of his reach.

“ You said in your lecture that fire is among the ways to kill a vampire.” Sasha's voice dropped into a perfect impersonation of Van Helsing's. “Is it not ironic that a vampire can also use it to kill a hunter? ” She rocked the globe watching the fluid inside swirl around.

Regaining his breath, Van Helsing glared at Sasha, loathing and fear evident on his battered face. “You fiend, are like him. This act is proof of your evil.” He declared.

She waved a dismissive hand. “I am not here to debate you on what constitutes evil from your point of view. All that matters at this moment is what constitutes justice for my brother's murder from my point of view.”

Van Helsing lunged from the ground with a roar, the remnants of a wheel spoke in his hand. Sasha dropped the lantern. Flames erupted at their feet. Both jumped back but Sasha recovered first and sidestepping quickly she brought her arm up ramrod straight and caught the man in the neck, crushing his Adam's apple. Kicking out she took his legs from under him and then jumped again when he aimed for her legs, her pale eyes alight with savage glee. Portions of the wreck had caught fire and illuminated the scene. In the flickering amber light Sasha circled her enemy, savoring the coming struggle. “Not quite so easy without your friends to back you up is it, Vampire Killer?” She said mocking him.

Rolling away he jumped to his feet and charged her again, barreling head down into her abdomen, pushed with all his might, seeking to impale her on the broken carriage wheel. She let his momentum turn her instead and grabbing him around the waist flipped the Doctor onto his back with her on top. Sparks flew as they landed and Sasha leap to her feet, tearing off her now smoldering cloak. Pulling the shaken man up she dragged him over to the shattered coach and slammed his body down. Van Helsing screamed, though the sound coming from his ruined throat was a pitiful wail. His head lolled and he struggled to rise again, trying in vain to throw off the iron grip the vampire had on his coat. As his eyes locked on the ice blue eyes of the Countess, his revealed her victory.

The vampire crouched, her face inches away from his. She spoke the last words he would ever hear. “You and your allies took my brother when he was weak and outnumbered little man. You killed the sister Brides in their Dawn Sleep tupor. You made the mistake of assuming that no one would mourn or avenge the deaths you brought to Castle Dracula. Take with you to Hell the comfort of knowing that your companions will soon join you there. I mourn the loss of my brother every day. He will be avenged.” The vampire's touch was the last thing Van Helsing felt in this world as her hands gripped his head with a savage twist, she broke his neck.

Lifting her head to the night sky Sasha whispered. “The first has fallen Vlad, the rest will swiftly follow.” She moved around the site eliminating any trace of her presence. Pausing for a moment to watch the wreck burn she checked the stars and turning away from the dead men, the vampire once again shifted to her wolf form and broke into a ground eating run, racing the dawn to the town of Graves End.


Chapter Ten

Drawing her dressing gown closed and stepping onto the balcony of their room, Molly walked to the rail and stood, gazing up at the stars. Ever since Sasha had arrived, the merchant's daughter had lived her life in two worlds, both the sun and moon lighting the thrilling tapestry it had become. Worried green eyes abandoned the constellations to scan the quiet hamlet below.

In spite of Sasha's assurances that she would be able to find them, the young woman began to pace as her practiced eye noted the paling of the horizon. Never before had the Countess been this far from her and sanctuary at sunrise. If the skies had been overcast she would have felt some small measure of comfort. Her dark love could endure daylight if there was no direct contact with the searing rays. Cloudy days had become the young woman's favorite kind as it allowed them to enjoy daytime activities together outside. But on this morning nothing obscured the fading stars and Molly grasped the rail and closed her eyes, trying to still her racing pulse.

Molly's devotion to her Countess was absolute and with the help of Giles and Tobias, she had maintained the facade that kept Sasha safe from those who would destroy her. The young woman knew that her constant vigilance was required lest the men who had hunted Dracula down, came for his sister as well.

Molly had risen to the challenge and co hosted Sasha's gatherings, answered her correspondence and dealt with the estate servants. If the citizens of London were ever to learn Sasha's secret Molly knew that both their lives would be forfeited. The young woman had nightmares where she and her Mistress were torn from each other; Sasha impaled and burning, Molly thrown into a dark prison to await the hangman for her role as Companion. No, the deaths of these men and the ones that Sasha fed on did not trouble her, her only fear was losing Sasha.

Turning back to reenter the room Molly went over to Sasha's disguised earth box. Running her hands lovingly over the lid she sighed again. Sasha would have to sleep out the daylight inside. She would return to the estate, safe in its embrace while Molly and Tobias watched over her. Stretching out over the lid she moaned, imagining Sasha's lean frame nude inside. A soft rustle of fabric and the pressure of arms wrapped around her, brought Molly upright with a gasp.

Sharp teeth grazed her neck and Sasha's voice entered her thoughts as the tall woman's body pressed into her from behind. Van Helsing has fallen little one. Turning in the embrace, Molly slid her fingers into raven silk and pulled the vampire down for a searing kiss.

Sasha grasped the collar of the girl's dressing gown and ripped it open. Tearing her mouth away from her companion's she found her favorite spot on Molly's neck and sank her fangs in deep. The Countess' hands roamed freely over the young woman's body which responded to her touch as it always did, with complete trust and passionate abandon. Releasing her bite Sasha lifted Molly up and her companion wrapped her legs around the taller woman, her hands locked together behind the vampire's neck. Discarding the remnants of the dressing gown Sasha set her willing captive down on the trunk.

Sasha took both of Molly's hands into one of hers and held them behind the young woman's back, causing her body to arch, bringing her pert breasts forward for Sasha to suckle. As her tongue teased the tight points, she fondled the young woman with her other hand, her blunt nails raking over the smooth skin of her lover's inner thigh. Molly rocked forward with every stroke forcing her aching nipples further into the vampire's mouth. This movement caused her thighs to part farther and she gasped as the cool air of the room hit her moist center. The musty scent of her desire drifted up and Sasha shuddered, her teeth piercing the tender flesh in her mouth. Molly sighed and her head dropped to Sasha's shoulder in surrender. Stepping back Sasha let go of Molly just long enough to free herself from her pants and straddled her lover's thigh. Slick heat poured over the young woman's leg and Molly moaned, loving the feel of Sasha's passion coating her skin. Looking into jade eyes that mirrored Sasha's desire no further urging was needed and she thrust her hand deep into the wet embrace of her companion.


The long fingers curved inward and within a few strokes Sasha's fist pumped in perfect rhythm to the thrusting of her hips. Able to give her passions free reign, she pounded into Molly, the girl's excitement coating her hand past her wrist, easing her access. Slowing her thrusts Sasha once again attached her lips to Molly's neck and sucked, savoring the sweetness of the coppery fluid. Molly whimpered and Sasha withdrew her fangs to find Molly's lips, kissing her. Demanding entrance, the vampire's tongue filled the young woman's mouth with the familiar taste of her own blood. Molly's inner walls clenched in response, as did Sasha's and she doubled her efforts, urging the girl's impending orgasm, and her own. Letting go of Molly's hands the dark woman gripped the blonde's hair pulling back, forcing her neck to arch even further as she sank her fangs in once more. Grabbing onto Sasha with a primal cry, the girl's body jerked and her release poured out over her lover's demanding fist. Sasha held on, her knees nearly buckling as her climax echoed that of the woman in her embrace. Molly leaned forward clinging to Sasha peppering the long neck with soft kisses, her panting breaths warming her Mistress' flesh. The vampire slowly withdrew her hand from its captivity, causing small aftershocks of pleasure in Molly's core.

A warm lassitude claimed her and she laid her head down on the broad shoulder, trying to recover her breath. Scooping Molly up into her arms, Sasha turned and stepped over to the bed. She knelt, gently placing her tender burden in the center of the mattress, drawing the coverlet over her. Kissing the sweat dampened brow, she smiled as Molly's mist green eyes gazed up with her filled with satiated contentment.


“ Rest awhile, my sweet. Later Tobias will see us home safely.” Sasha said softly, the only words to pass aloud between them. Pale green eyes fluttered closed and Sasha stood, removing the rest of her clothes quickly she climbed into her earthbox. Her mind sought out and found Tobias in the next room. Noting that he had already risen and was preparing for the journey home she surrendered to Dawn Sleep as the first rays of sunlight found their way under the heavy drapes and into the quiet room.


Chapter Eleven


Three weeks after their return from Graves End another invitation arrived at Sasha's estate. As luck or fate would have it, Lord Arthur Holmwood was giving a masked ball and wished the Countess and her ward to attend. Sasha was pleased by the news and sat sipping port on her favorite chaise in the library after Tobias had given her the letter. Here again Molly's suggestion to make appearances throughout the season's events bore ripe fruit, giving her mistress another perfect opportunity to observe and study one of Vlad's killers up close. Tobias had learned that Holmwood had a romantic interest in Molly, hence the invitation.

The attractiveness of her friend was often the reason they were invited to attend parties. Matrons with eligible sons had began to call whenever one of these paragons of masculine virtue came into town. Sasha realized the contacts Molly had made during her association with the Countess would put her in good standing after Sasha's business in England was finished. As with the others that had left her service, the ampire intended to deed Molly the estate when she departed. She ignored the bouts of depression these arrangements had caused her.


After their first night together, the vampire had not used her ability to read her attendant's thoughts and it was her secret joy that so far Molly had handled her suitors with gentle grace, letting the men know that she was flattered but unavailable. The dark woman had come to realize that her feelings toward Molly had deepened, but held herself back with the excuse that she would leave England when her task was done, freeing the young woman. But could Sasha let her go?

Shaking off these thoughts, Sasha turned her attention to Holmwood's invitation. Here was one suitor upon which she could have no problem allowing her feelings their expression. Van Helsing's death had been reported in the papers, a tragic accident by all accounts and Sasha had been pleased and relieved to learn of it. At this gathering however she would be able to gage the reactions of those who had a good chance of having known the scientist, Holmwood being foremost among them. Sasha finished her port and went in search of her friend, they would be accepting Lord Holmwood's invitation to his home. The need to be invited in by the owner of the house was a bothersome one at times but this ball was the perfect ploy as it included both the women. Sasha would be able to return at any time. Then the young Lord would join Van Helsing in death.


Chapter Twelve


Molly stood in her chamber before a full length pedestal mirror trying to reconcile the image before her with the simple merchant's daughter she used to be. Her thick blonde hair was hidden beneath a black wig, artfully styled, soft ringlets spilled down framing her face. Pale pink flowers were woven into the coil forming a crown. A choker of emeralds with matching earrings, a Christmas gift from Sasha, adorned her neck and ears. The gown, eggshell white and Grecian in design, bared one shoulder, the contours of her slim body accented by the gilt braid running through the entire linen garment. Tiny gold sandals were on her feet, her toenails also painted gold wiggled around in unaccustomed freedom. The feathered mask and scroll containing her own poetry tucked under her arm completed her ensemble.

The young woman took a deep breath and adjusted her hem for the tenth time in as many minutes. Meeting her own eyes in the mirror she smiled. Oh father, look at your little girl, you were so worried I would never find my place in the world. You said you wanted the best for me. You were always looking out for a good provider. Remember the dream lover I told you about? You said if I truly believed, the dark haired, blue eyed stranger would come and claim me for their own. Molly looked around the beautiful room Sasha had given her and smiled. Both her and her father's dreams had come true.

“ The ancient poetess Sappho has never been represented in a more lovely manner.” Looking over her shoulder in the mirror, what she saw caused the young woman to turn towards the low voice. A hunter in every guise, the blonde thought.

Sasha's midnight tresses had been pulled back into a tight ponytail that fell between her broad shoulders and on her head sat a black tricorn hat, decorated with ostrich feathers. One of the her shining sapphire eyes was covered by a black silk patch and the other twinkled softly at her accomplice. She wore a white silk shirt with ruffles down the front and on the ends of the puffed sleeves. Black leather gloves encased the long fingers and Sasha stood stroking the neat mustache Tobias had painstakingly applied to her planed face. Over her shirt was a black vest trimmed in gold thread. Tight black pants tucked into cuffed black boots and the hilt of an ivory dagger could be seen sticking out of the top of the left one. Around her waist a blood red sash completed the outfit along with the saber belted to her narrow hips over the sash.

“ Speechless, little one?” The Countess' asked, continuing to stroke her facial hair, grinning at her friend.

Shaking herself out of her reverie Molly moved over to the taller woman. “If I'm at a loss for words it is only because looking at you makes all the ones I know inadequate.” Raising a hand she traced her fingers lightly over Sasha's mustache. “All the ladies at the ball will be swooning at your feet, wishing to become captives of such a dashing rogue.” She said the words lightly but Molly had acknowledged a long time before that not only were she and Sasha admired by the men they encountered at the entertainments they had attended, there were also a few women who expressed an interest in having a more intimate association with the mysterious beauty. Although she could not blame them, she had warned them off, discreetly of course, Sasha was hers. Even if she won't admit it. Yet.

The Countess snared the wandering hand and kissed the knuckles gently. “No it is you the women will notice, your beauty will have them greener than your eyes with envy. Holmwood is sure to seek you out.” Sasha predicted, her azure gaze sweeping over her aide with pride and more than a little possessiveness.


“ He has no chance. I have not forgotten his role in the death of your brother.” Molly stepped back and lifted her necklace to reveal the marks she proudly wore, asking just weeks ago that Sasha not do her customary healing. “Just as I have not forgotten to whom I have given my every loyalty.”

“ It will no doubt raise the question; why would such a charming and intelligent young woman prefer the company of her widowed patroness to that of a handsome and wealthy Lord such as our host?” Sasha said, humor coloring her voice, masking the sudden fear she felt at the thought of Molly choosing to leave despite her words of fealty.

“ I would answer that Countess Rossi is 10 times the man that dolt Arthur Holmwood is and more handsome as well.” Molly declared, her bright green eyes flashing with true conviction in their depths. “I know and understand the danger to be found on your path Sasha, try to remember that while I exist on any level, you no longer walk it alone”. She reached up and sealed her declaration with a kiss.

Sasha shook her head and her blue eye gleamed with pleasure. “I no longer question the Fates that brought you to me Molly Ryan. I thank them every day for the light you shine into my dark, cold existence.” Wanting to delay no further, Sasha escorted Molly to the waiting carriage.

Brightly colored lanterns and cheerful music greeted the two women as they entered the ballroom, the atmosphere one of abandon and merriment. All manner of gaily dressed revelers swept by them as they climbed to an upper balcony to get a better view of the festivities. The room was large with a long mahogany bar along one wall with doors leading outside just beyond it to the left. A large fireplace dominated the opposite wall with couches and chairs for congregating nearby. The open space in the middle was filled with dancers, keeping time with the quartet of musicians on a small stage in the back corner.

Sasha watched her young friend out of the corner of her eye, delighted as always to see her bright jade eyes absorbing everything around them. The ruse of visiting noblewoman about town allowed her to open doors for Molly to experience things she had only dreamed of. Sasha realized then that no one save Vlad had shared as much of her life as Molly did and for the first time saw just how lonely that had been. The vampire marveled at the irony, her cold mission of vengeance had become the means for her truly to be all that she was with someone who cared for her. She was brought out of her musings by a masculine voice calling her name.

“ Countess Rossi, can that be you? It must be, for this lovely Greek poetess can only be the charming Molly Ryan. “ A man dressed in a Viking costume approached the pair. “Let me get you libation at once, I was so hoping you would be here.” Stopping a passing server he handed each of them a flute of champagne.

“ Thank you Richard.” Sasha said, tipping her glass in toast. She recognized the rotund warrior before them. Richard Thatcher had been one of the hapless males that had fallen for the poet at her side. He was a merchant of some wealth and had known Molly from childhood in her father's home. He had been the first to sue for Molly's hand and even though she refused his offer of marriage, he was her father's friend and still looked upon her with affection.

“ Now Richard,” Molly chided. “You know that everyone must wait until midnight and the unmasking for our identities to be revealed.” But her bright jade eyes twinkled behind her mask and she smiled brightly at her father's old friend. Returning her smile he held out an arm and bowed to the young woman. “Shall we dance?”

Turning to Sasha, Molly handed her champagne to the tall pirate and took Richard's arm gathering her skirts as they swept down the staircase to join the guests swirling across the ballroom. Sipping her wine, the Countess scanned the crowd in search of their host. She chuckled in wry amusement when she spotted him, headed in her direction, dressed as a buccaneer as well.

“ Countess Rossi,” said Holmwood, taking her hand and placing a courtly kiss upon it. “Thank you for coming.”.

"Lord Holmwood, thank you for you invitation," she said as he stepped up and greeted her. "Neither myself or my companion has ever attended a London masquerade before." She tipped her hat to the pale haired Lord, her pale eye taking in every detail of her enemy.

Arthur Holmwood and Sasha were of equal stature and he met her scrutiny with deep blue eyes set in a boyish face made older by his neatly trimmed mustache The pirate's garb, similar to hers only different in color, the deep blue and saffron of his House, displayed an athletic form and his hand hovered above his sword with the ease of familiarity.

Holmwood studied the Countess as well. It was disconcerting to see the beautiful woman dressed as a man but it steeled his resolve and he charged ahead eager to discuss marriage to her ward because of it. "I had hoped to use this opportunity to speak to you about my wish to call on Miss Ryan. As her patroness I felt it only proper to let you know my intentions towards the young lady. I have much to offer and she would want for nothing."

"She wants for nothing now!" Sasha barked. Reining in the burst of jealous anger she composed her features into politeness and said, "I thank you for your gesture of respect Lord Holmwood, but my Companion makes her own decisions in these matters." Y ou might as well wish for the stars, brother killer. They would be easier to obtain than my Molly's affections. Her voice was thick with suppressed emotion and her hand strayed unconsciously to her blade. Holmwood took a step back, surprised at the cobalt fire in the blue eye pinned to his.

"I see. Please enjoy the festivities." He bowed to the tall woman and took his leave. Inside he rejoiced at Sasha's words. Ever since she had been introduced to him at an after theater party, Arthur had wanted to posses the petite beauty. The fiery gold of her hair had reminded him strongly of his lost Lucy. For the first time since his fiancées death he'd felt alive. Seeing her again was the true reason for the party.

Although the girl's devotion to the Countess was plain to all, he felt that once he showed her the benefits of life as the wife of an English Lord, she would choose him, just as Lucy had. Moving to the railing to watch the dancers he spotted her right away, she was laughing with that fat fool Thatcher. Holmwood saw her as a prize to be won. Imagining those soft green eyes turned on him with loving affection, he smiled. He would win her at any cost.

Molly felt the weight of a stare and looked up, finding Lord Holmwood avidly watching her. There was a stamp of possessive obsession in the way his deep blue eyes were devouring her and she shuddered. There was a hunger in his intense gaze that troubled the young woman dampening her mood and she was relieved when a turn of the dance took her out of his line of sight.

Sasha stood back, content to remain a spectator at the ball as Molly continued to be a favored partner among the young men wishing to dance. Those brave enough to ask the Countess onto the floor were gently refused as she kept a discreet eye on their host while he circulated among the other guests. The tall woman realized that no matter where he was, he kept Molly in his line of sight, as did she. While he made a point of spreading his attentions among all the single women at the gathering, Molly was the recipient of the lion's share of his time. She had seen the flash of anger on his face when Molly left his side to dance once again with her friend Richard and grew wary of the man. When at last Molly returned to her side, Sasha breathed a sigh of relief.

"Are you enjoying yourself, little one?" Sasha asked, noting Molly's flushed cheeks and rapid breathing from her latest trip across the dance floor.

"Yes very much, but I am becoming quite uncomfortable with Lord Holmwood's attitude. He only talks about the vastness of his fortune and seems to think that is enough to have me swooning at his feet. He claims that all he needs is a beautiful woman at his side to make his life complete." Molly looked up at her dark companion, concern clouding her emerald eyes.

"Well, I cannot fault his taste but if his advances are bothering you I will speak to him." Molly's distress was telegraphed to the tall woman and she scowled, hating their arrogant host even more. "I told him that you make your own decisions about who you wished to entertain but I will not allow you to be harassed."

"I would never consider him, however I cannot come out and tell him why without causing quite a stir." The former merchant's daughter put a gentle hand on Sasha's arm. "He cannot understand that I have the life I wish, thinking I am too young and inexperienced to make an informed choice in the matter." Are you listening, my Sasha?

Sasha led Molly through the crowd, heading for the bar, thinking over her companion's words. She has only seen a small part of what I am. The name Van Helsing drifted out from a small group standing at the edge of the dance floor. Sasha stopped, turning toward the voice. Gesturing for Molly to continue on, Sasha moved to the outer edges of the cluster of people listening with rapt attention to the man in the center.

"He was found beside his carriage with his neck broken," the tall man was saying. Dressed as King Henry the VIII, Sasha nevertheless recognized the voice of Magistrate Hardwick, who had come to her estate after the poaching incident. He had been very solicitous of her then and she moved closer, sure of her welcome. "Apparently something spooked the horses, wolves by the tracks, and the crash killed both him and his driver." He finished.

Several murmurs of dismay greeted his words and Sasha smiled to herself. She was pleased to discover that her plan to make his death look accidental had succeeded so admirably. Stepping up to the magistrate she put all the shock she could muster into her voice and said, “How unfortunate, Magistrate! I recently attended his lecture at the University. When did this happen?"

"That very night I'm afraid, Countess.” He started at first to hear Sasha's accented tones coming from the man on his left, but recovered quickly, giving her a slight bow. "Terrible business, a tragic loss to the academic world."

"Indeed. Will there be services here?" The dark woman could have cared less but she wanted to give the impression of sorrow that the others seemed to be displaying.

The magistrate shook his head in reply. "No, apparently Dr. Seward of the Carfax Asylum was a friend and arranged for his body to be sent back to his native Vienna."

Sasha left the group and headed after her friend. Any fears that Van Helsing's death would warrant further investigation were now laid to rest. Reaching the bar she looked around for her companion, surprised that she was not there waiting. Removing her eye patch she scanned the room quickly, and extended her inner sense of her ward. From the link she shared with the girl Sasha became aware of rising discomfort in her companion. Alarm raced through the vampire as Molly failed to appear. Spotting Richard Thatcher she strode quickly to his side. "Have you seen Molly? She was to meet me at the bar but I cannot find her."

Not understanding the panic in Sasha's demeanor he winked at her, "I saw her just now. She was heading out with Lord Holmwood for a stroll in the gardens. He seems to be quite taken with her." Richard had been pleased to see the interest in Molly that the young Lord had shown.

While he had at one time wished to wed the beautiful girl himself, he knew that she looked upon him as a dear uncle and that Holmwood was a more suitable match. "I'm sure they're fine..." he said to Sasha's retreating back as she brushed him aside heading for the balcony doors that overlooked the gardens. He shook his head and turned to the bar, calling for more wine.


From her vantage point at the railing, Sasha scanned the moonlit garden, searching for her companion. Molly's unease had bloomed into real fear and suddenly the tranquil peace of the night was shattered by a scream, cut off in mid cry. Holmwood, if you have harmed her, you have doubled the debt between us.

Sasha vaulted the railing, losing her hat as she landed and broke into a dead run towards the sounds of a struggle. Rounding a wall of tall shrubs she skidded to a halt as she found Molly, struggling in the arms of a very frustrated Arthur Holmwood. His hand was covering her mouth and he was trying to force her back down onto the stone bench tucked into the corner of the secluded spot. Molly's gown was torn, her wig had shifted leaving her hair in disarray and her bright jade eyes were round with terror.

"Let her go, Holmwood!" Sasha growled.

"Sasha!" Molly cried, tearing her mouth from Arthur's grip, she lunged toward the safety of Sasha's arms.

The drunken Lord whirled about at the alto voice, the young woman firm in his embrace. A gleam of challenge shone in his eyes as he saw the tall pirate.

Sasha's fists clenched and unclenched at her side. Scarlet light began to fill her vision as Molly struggled to free herself. Getting a grip on her temper, Sasha gentled her voice and spoke to her frightened ward. "It's going to be alright Molly," giving her a small smile. Turning to Arthur she tried to reason with him. "Lord Holmwood, please let her come to me and we will go inside and discuss this calmly."

Keeping a tight hand on his prize he drew the sword at his side and swung it back and forth before him. "Back off sea dog!"

"Come on now Arthur! Aren't you taking this whole pirate thing a little far?" Called a drunken voice from the back of the gathering crowd.

"NO! Get away! I will not lose my Lucy again!" He swung the blade again and tightened his grip on Molly's arm.

"He's gone 'round the bend," muttered a plump woman dressed as a witch, "that's not Lucy."

From behind Sasha on the left a man dressed in as a Roman senator raised his hands in a placating manner and tried to calm the agitated Holmwood. "Steady on Arthur. No one wants to take her from you. Let her go and we'll go back up to the house."

The crowd pressed in, calling out suggestions and Holmwood's agitation rose.

Sasha held onto her rage only by the thinnest of threads. It took a great deal of her focus to prevent her fangs from descending. For Molly's sake and the witnesses behind her, Sasha controlled her baser instincts and holding her hands away from her blade entreated, "Lord Holmwood, release Molly. You have frightened her and all your guests with this behavior."

Holmwood regarded the tall pirate facing him. In his mind he saw only a rival for woman he had claimed. Shoving the blonde behind him, he sprang forward twirling his sword. "She is mine! You will not take her from me!" He cried.

It was too much. The Countess drew her own blade and met his attack. Though it had been many years since she had needed to defend herself in this way, Sasha knew perfectly well how to use the weapon in her hand. She had wielded it in battle at her brother's side, it was only fitting that she use it on one of his killers.

Even in his drunken state Holmwood was a credible swordsman. Mindful of Molly's safety she drew Arthur away from her lover as they traded blows. Dodging an overhand strike she circled behind him, at last between Arthur and her young friend. When he realized he had been outmaneuvered he charged Sasha with a roar. Slipping past her defenses, he sliced her side. He danced back laughing, seeing victory at hand he attacked again. Ignoring the bright pain she brought her saber up, catching his sword on the hilt of hers. They were face to face and his eyes bored into hers.

"First blood is mine. Just like the woman." He panted.

"Never! You will go to your grave regretting you ever touched her." Sasha spat.

Gathering her considerable strength Sasha flung the man from her and swinging across her body, batted aside his next rush. With a quick flip of her wrist she switched hands and thrust forward, impaling him on the curved blade. Holmwood staggered in shock, dropping his sword, gaping at the woman in front of him. He sank to the ground and Sasha went down with him slowly pulling her blade free. Certain that none but Molly could hear her words she whispered, "One more thing Holmwood, when you get to Hell, tell Van Helsing that Dracula's sister sends her regards."

Understanding flared in the bloodshot eyes and his hand groped for his sword. Kicking it aside, she stood, reaching back for Molly. The young woman flew into her arms and stood shaking at Sasha's side when Arthur Holmwood breathed his last.

Moments later the Magistrate arrived and stopped dead at the odd tableau before him: Countess Rossi was comforting a distraught Molly, a bloody saber clutched in one hand, her bedraggled wig in the other. Lord Holmwood lay in a pool of blood, and the rest of the guests looked between the three with expressions ranging from shock to awe.

"What happened here?" He demanded.

"Lord Holmwood went mad, constable." Said the Senator. Seems he thought Miss Ryan was his dead Lucy come back. When the Countess tried to get him to let her go and come back to the house, he attacked her with his sword." He pointed to Holmwood's blade on the ground, still wet with Sasha's blood.

Sasha turned to the Magistrate, revealing her torn vest and bloody shirt. "I sought only to free my Companion. He would not hear reason." She said, her pale eyes bloodshot and filled with fire.

Shaking his head sadly he took charge of the scene. "Very well, back to the house. I will need statements from everyone." He knelt at Holmwood's side and closed his eyes. "Have someone bring out a litter."

Pushing the burning pain of the wound in her side out of her mind, Sasha dropped her saber and the wig pulling Molly more tightly into her arms. Kissing the top of her head she whispered. "Are you alright, little one? Did he hurt you?" Stepping back she ran her hands gently over the slim form, tilting the girl's face until their eyes met.

Blinking back tears, Molly released a shuddering breath. "No you stopped him. But you..." With a yank she ripped off part of her gown and held it to the wound in her defender's side.

"It is nothing, just a scratch, I barely feel it. When I saw his hands on you..." Sasha said. The vampire's eyes conveyed a depth of feeling that Molly had never before seen. Anger and love shone in the sapphire gaze and Molly fell into the taller woman's arms, releasing the tears she had been holding.

"I'm so sorry Sasha. I thought if I went for a walk with him I could turn him down once and for all. At first he was very charming. But when I told him that on no account would I leave you he became very angry. I tried to get away then..." Sliding a tentative hand across Sasha's body Molly touched the edge of Sasha's wound. "Sasha when I saw your blood..., my heart almost stopped." What if I had lost you? Her hold on the dark haired woman tightened as a tremor ran through her.

Sasha kissed the pale head on her shoulder again and stroked the young woman's back. "It is merely a scratch. I am the one who needs to apologize. I allowed you to be bait in the trap I have been setting. Can you forgive me?" She looked deeply into the misty eyes. " I could see he was becoming unstable, I should never have left you alone.”

The Countess' unspoken words entered Molly's mind colored with a feeling she had always longed for coming from the older woman. Her heart soared and the discomfort of her short ordeal fell from her like water. Drying her tears she stepped out of Sasha's arms, taking the taller woman's hands into hers. "There is nothing to forgive Sasha. We came here tonight for two reasons. First, to hear any news or developments in the Van Helsing matter and second to find a way to get closer to Holmwood. I think what is most important here and now is that we succeeded in both aims." Attempting to lighten the mood she quipped, "Did I not say that tonight that Countess Rossi was ten times the man that Arthur Holmwood was?"

A soundless chuckle rippled through the dark haired pirate. "Yes you did, but I did not think that the proving of it would take such a dramatic turn." She said turning towards the mansion.

The magistrate stood there shaking his head sadly. " He was a good man once. He was full of laughter and good times before he lost Lucy. I thought with this party he was returning to the man I had known. On behalf of his House I extend my deepest regrets for your treatment this evening. I am truly sorry." Remembering the last time he had seen the Countess he added with a deep sigh, "It seems that London has not been kind to your house."

Returning Sasha's weapon now cleansed of Holmwood's blood he spared a look at their dead host as his servants bore the body away. Had he been looking at her the Magistrate would have noted the gleam of satisfaction in the Countess' eyes.

A ll of London's debts will be paid, in blood. "Do you wish to charge me?" She asked, schooling her features.

"No, it was clearly a case of self defense. I only need statements from you and Miss Ryan, it should not take long." He said casting a tender eye on the young woman tucked under Sasha's protective arm. Noting the blood on Sasha's shirt, he pointed. "I will have a doctor fetched to see to your wound, as well."

"That will not be necessary. I will attend to it when we get home" In truth the slice had already begun to heal, Molly's body pressed against her disguised that fact. Seeing a doctor would raise questions the vampire had no wish to answer.

"As you wish Countess. If you would follow me?"

Hand in hand the two women trailed behind the rest of the party goers back to the mansion. Still brooding, Sasha squeezed Molly's hand and when her companion turned she apologized again. "I am sorry little one. Even though I learned from the Magistrate himself that Van Helsing's death has been ruled an accident, I should have found another way to trap Holmwood without putting you in the path of his lust."

Looking into the compassionate mist green eyes Sasha berated herself. She has been loving and devoted to me from the very start and I have kept her at arm's length. I have been a fool. Where would I be if she had accepted a proposal from one of these lordlings? No closer to resolving this matter and more alone than I have ever thought possible.

S eeing the turmoil in the azure eyes she loved was too much for the young woman and she stopped, stepping in front of her tall friend, took her large hands and kissed the knuckles softly. "Sasha, I also said tonight that I knew of the dangers on your path and that while I exist in any form you do not walk it alone. Holmwood's fate was sealed the moment he conspired against your brother. He has made a full accounting for his deeds and I am proud to have been a part of that." Considering the matter closed Molly started back to the house, a stunned Sasha in her wake.

As the pirate and the poetess crossed the threshold of the mansion heads turned and Sasha noted the mixture of sympathy, shock and grief on the faces of the once happy revelers. Many eyes were drawn to the bloody gash on her side and the disheveled clothes of her companion, but no one spoke to them.

Suddenly Richard Thatcher burst out of the crowd, moving towards them, the strain of worry and grief evident in his round face. Embracing them both, he addressed the older woman.

"Countess! I just heard. I guess your concern over Molly's whereabouts was well founded. I would never have thought Arthur capable of such a thing. I am shaken to the very core."

"No more than I Richard," replied Sasha, her words telling more truth than the merchant knew. Sitting on one of the couches near the fire she drew Molly down to sit on her uninjured side. Looking up at the worried man she gave him a small smile and asked, “Would you bring something to drink? I don't want to leave Molly just now."

"Of course." Wrapping a meaty hand around the blonde's wrist he kissed the bowed head.

"Thank you Richard," Molly favored the man with a small smile.

All Sasha really wanted right now was to get away from this house and all the prying eyes on them. The random thoughts she could pick up had nothing of animosity in them overall but on the edge of her perceptions a dark brooding anger was stirring the hairs on the back of her neck. The sooner she and Molly were safe at the estate the better.

In answer to her wish she spied Richard once again headed towards them, a cup of tea for Molly in his hand and a harried Magistrate trailing behind him. Gone was his Henry VIII costume as he took up his duties as an officer of the law. The constable claimed Molly's other side on the couch and began talking to her in a low voice, writing notes on a pad in his hand.

Sasha rose and pulled the merchant a few steps away, speaking in a near whisper asked, "Richard, if I could impose on you once more?" She continued as the man nodded, tearing his eyes away from the bloody tear in her clothes. "Could you see that my carriage is brought around? I would like to get Molly home as soon as we are finished with our statements."

"As you wish Countess." Handing Molly her tea he squeezed Sasha's arm and hurried away.

Sitting back down she listened while Molly gave her account of Holmwood's ill mannered attempt at seduction and then gave her own account of the fight. At last the Magistrate stood, tucking his notebook away. "Countess, Miss Ryan, thank you for your patience and once again on behalf of Holmwood's family I apologize for tonight's tragedy. You are free to go." Bowing low to both women, he took his leave.

At last on their way home in the carriage, Sasha's mind returned to the revelations tonight's events had brought. She now knew the truth her obsession with vengeance had kept from her from dwelling on. I love her, no I am in love with her.

While the physical intimacy she shared with Molly surpassed every other encounter she had ever had, she justified keeping Molly at an emotional distance by convincing herself that theirs was a temporary alliance. She smiled wryly to herself. She had known something deep and lasting existed between the girl and herself when their eyes first met. The thought returned to her that Molly shared more of her life than anyone since Vlad. The young woman was friend, confidant, protector and lover.

The tall woman shook her head in wonder. Vlad believed through all the years of his waiting that he and Elizabetha would be together again. Even before he wrote to me that he had found her, I could feel through our link a happiness I had not felt from him in all their years apart. I envied him that devotion. She raised their joined hands and kissed Molly's gently . Now I am beginning to understand what he lost when she died. The Dark Gift allowed me to be with him, to help him through the grief. It is ironic, he told me again and again that I would meet someone. Oh Vlad, you were right. It is a cruel trick of fate that I should find that someone while on a quest to avenge your death.

"I know you shield me from what you consider the more, shall I say, 'gruesome' aspects of your life my love, but tonight's events have shown us it is not always possible." Molly said from Sasha's side.

"I know that danger and death follow you Sasha, you are Dracula's sister are you not? I know that the closer we come to the end of this 'dark adventure' as you called it, the more dangerous it becomes. I am not afraid. I must admit that I felt fear tonight when you were dueling with Holmwood but only that I would lose you."

When Sasha had rounded the hedges and seen Molly in the delusional Lord's embrace, her thoughts about Vlad and revenge had been swept from her mind. When it was all said and done, Holmwood had truly lost his life for the crime of daring to touch her lover.

Watching the young men sail about the ballroom with her young ward had been hard, and Holmwood's ever increasing advances had brought Sasha's hand to the hilt of her blade long before the young woman had disappeared. "When I saw Holmwood's hands on you...My vow to my brother meant nothing. In that moment I realized, none of this does, if it costs me you." The Countess said softly.

Molly pinned her fierce green gaze into her lover's wide eyed blue one. "My dreams have been filled with you for as long as I can remember. In those dreams nothing could stand against us. I love you Sasha, all of you. The cultured world traveler and the vampire. Molly said, her green eyes full of conviction.

“I know in my soul we were meant to be together. Tonight you faced down naked steel in the hands of a madman to keep me safe. How could I do less? I would endure a hundred Holmwood's to be at your side Sasha."

Climbing into Sasha's lap, Molly ran her fingers through her lover's raven hair and down caressing the broad shoulders. Leaning in she nipped the long neck and smiled as Sasha shivered. "We cannot know the future my Sasha, but as long as we face it together, I am not afraid."

With those words, Sasha knew she could no more leave Molly behind than she could stop the sun from rising. Together. Sasha liked the sound of that. "Together, beloved." She said savoring the two words as she surrendered herself to the persistent caresses of her companion.



Despite the lateness of the hour, Sasha called her small staff together. The group stood in their nightclothes, except for Tobias who had been with them this evening. Denise, Celeste and Cara, the two maids and cook respectively stood next to Thomas her stableman, Tobias, Giles and Hans the gardener rounding out the little group. This was the first time since her arrival she had called them all together. Though she dealt with them all in one degree or another over the last few months, the staff seldom saw their tall Mistress. As she watched their faces as they took in her and Molly's appearance, Sasha smiled to herself. Molly was loved by all in spite of having been promoted from maid to Companion after Sasha took over the estate. The young woman had maintained the sunny disposition she was known for and never put on airs with them as she managed the Countess' affairs.

Tonight's events had shaken the insular world of the elite to the core and she wanted to head off the rumor mill by informing them herself. Their loyalty was more critical than ever and she wanted to gage their response to her news. If need be she would use hypnotic suggestion to keep them from telling her secrets. So far this step had not been necessary as Tobias had culled the gossip mongers from the staff before Sasha's arrival.

"As you all know Molly and I attended Lord Holmwood's masked ball this evening. You can see that the festivities did not go as well as we might have hoped." She said indicating Molly's torn gown and her own bloody shirt.

"Mistress", cried Denise, “What happened?"

"At the ball, Lord Holmwood tried to force his attentions on Molly and when I intervened, he attacked me with a sword. In the fight, Lord Holmwood was killed." Sasha told them in a somber tone.

Outrage and shock flowed from the group as Sasha's words sunk in. Just as the Countess had suspected, the idea that Molly had been ill used angered them all. Now she could plan for any repercussions with their willing assistance. After sending Molly off with Denise to clean up, she dismissed the staff and went to her study with Giles and Tobias to plan her next move.

Entering her rooms later Sasha found Molly sitting by the fire, a snifter of brandy in her hand, her red gold hair damp from a bath, dressed in her green robe. Kneeling down next to her Sasha took one of the girl's hands in her own, kissing the knuckles lightly. Molly's misty green eyes were locked on the tear in Sasha's clothes. Standing, the dark woman unbuttoned her vest and shirt, showing Molly the thin line that was all that remained as evidence of Holmwood's attack. Pale green eyes gone dark at the sight of Sasha's bare breasts met hers and a jolt of desire coursed through the vampire. Holding out a hand she nodded towards the inner chamber, raising an eyebrow. Molly rose and Sasha led her through her seldom used bedroom and into the vampire's secret hideaway.

While Molly added wood to the fire in the sanctuary, Sasha stripped off the remainder of her clothes and lay down on the large bed. This night's passion would bind them even more deeply. Short of sharing her blood, her young lover would become one with the vampire in a way Sasha had only ever contemplated with the long dead Inid.

Early on she'd realized that her bond with Molly was beyond that she had with any other, save Vlad, but had rejected the confusing emotions. Finally giving in to what her heart had known all along, Sasha had, at last, promised Molly that final bit of herself. Her willingness to be everything Sasha needed;friend, confidant, lover, had shown the vampire that despite her youth, this was no mere fling to Molly.

The young woman turned and met the feral gaze of her lover. Molly's breath caught in her throat as Sasha's voice drifted into her mind. Come to bed my love. Dropping her robe she climbed onto the bed and straddled the vampire, pressing her mound into Sasha's. The dark woman arched her back, grinding into the moist patch and Molly purred.

"So beautiful, my Sasha, my dark queen," she whispered, stroking her lover's face with a reverent caress. Sasha captured the roaming finger with her teeth and sucked, causing the girl to shiver and press even more deeply into Sasha's increasingly wet center. Reaching up Sasha tangled her fingers in Molly's hair, drawing the young woman down into a deep kiss. Their tongues exchanged places several times before Molly's need for air forced her to break the kiss.

As she drew in a breath her senses swam with the intoxicating scent of Sasha's arousal. She licked the long neck beneath her, nibbling gently. Now, my love? Molly asked silently. In answer Sasha leaned back against the headboard and settled the blonde down between her open legs. Molly looked deep into Sasha's deathless blue eyes and smiled.

The younger woman traced a path across Sasha's hips slowly, savoring the gift her lover was bestowing upon her. She wanted to prove to the vampire that her vow of loyalty and her love knew no bounds. The young woman also craved a taste of the heady elixir that Sasha exuded.

They had shared passion countless times but Sasha had refused her this, not wanting to allow the unrestricted access to her thoughts that drinking her release would give Molly. More than once the young woman had cursed Inid and the pain her selfishness had caused Sasha. She was determined to show her lover that she was willing to accept everything about her, dark thoughts and all.

Molly slid her fingers through the soft down covering Sasha's sex and marveled at the wetness already flowing from her. “Oh Sasha, is this for me?” She asked, softly.

A breathless moan was the response and she raised her eyes to meet Sasha's gone violet with arousal. Molly licked her lips and her raven haired lover's gaze followed the course of that pink temptation and then she lifted her hips in entreaty.

Molly shifted her body, opening Sasha's legs wider and breathed in the musky scent. She blew a gentle stream of cool air across her lover's glistening labia and tore another, longer moan from the Countess. “Please Molly no more teasing, taste me, now.” Sasha begged, raising her hips again. Molly whispered, “Yes, my love.”, and gave her lover what they both wanted.

The tip of the blonde's tongue traced a path around the outer edges of Sasha's dripping sex, gathering in every drop. She licked in ever shrinking circles then flicked across the pulsing clitoris. Molly savored the flavors exploding across her lips. She kissed, stroked, teased and tasted, while Sasha's body danced around her.

“More!” Sasha cried and thrust her hips forward, sealing Molly's mouth to her. She pumped fiercely, grinding her sex into her young lover's face. Molly gripped Sasha's thighs, her tongue now deep in the vampire's core. Pulling back she drove three fingers of one hand again and again into the Countess, sending their passions higher. She suckled the pulsing clit, flicking her tongue over it in time with her thrusts. They found a rhythm together, their minds linked and for the first time nothing stood between the vampire and her soulmate. Both women cried out in ecstasy.

Sasha exploded in orgasm, Molly's release only a heartbeat behind. Removing her fingers, the young woman pressed her lips to the vampire's cleft and drank deeply of the flow pouring from her mate. Every pulse filled her mouth with nectar, her mind with gratitude and joy.

Though the resulting tide of Sasha's feelings that had flooded Molly's mind had been intense at first, she willed herself to take it all in. She would do anything to ease the crushing loneliness Sasha had known since Inid's betrayal. You will never be alone again My Sasha.

Satiated at last the vampire pulled her friend up to rest at her side. Settling her head against her tall lover's shoulder the blonde smiled in contentment.

Molly had reveled in her opportunity to love the vampire completely. With the remnants of Sasha's orgasm still clinging to her chin she could now feel the love flowing from her dark lover. As Sasha's thoughts slid into her companion's mind gently as a kiss, both the Countess and the merchant's daughter knew beyond a doubt that they had each found their soul mate.


Chapter Thirteen


Molly slowly opened her eyes and shut them tightly when the light from the lamp in front of her flared into focus. Shutting off her vision made her acutely aware of the rest of her senses. Her head throbbed in time to her now racing heartbeat and when she drew in a breath, an ache pulled her ribs. Shifting slightly she noted that while she was fully clothed, right down to her cloak, her hands were tied and she was lying on a pallet in a room that smelled of sweat and disinfectant. Where..?

"Ah, you are awake at last Miss Ryan. I was worried that my associates might have been too rough." A low voice at the foot of the pallet brought the blonde's eyes open and raising her head, she saw a tall man with dark stringy hair, a small beard and darting blue eyes in a long haggard face peering down at her. He wore a tweed suit and tie covered over by a white smock and there was a basin in his large yet delicate looking hands. Seward. How long have I been here? A jolt of pure terror surged through Molly. It could only mean one thing... Sasha's secret was out.

It was the first time in the month since Holmwood's funeral that she had ventured into London. There had been no further word from the Constable and those who had come to call had be very solicitous of both women. Tobias reported through his eyes on the street that neither Seward nor Harker had been seen together since Lord Holmwood's funeral. Bowing to Molly's complaints of feeling restless, Tobias had agreed to the shopping trip on the condition that they would be home before Sasha woke. The angry presence Sasha had sensed after the ball was never far from her thoughts and the blonde did not want her lover to worry. Through the dirty glass of the barred window she could see the afternoon sunlight. Her mind raced even as she tried to appear calm to her captors. It was barely noon when Tobias...Where is Tobias?

The doctor helped Molly sit up. He untied her hands and handed her a glass of water from the bedside table. Wringing out a cloth from the basin beside him, began to minister to the raw wounds on her wrist of her unoccupied hand. As she drank, her gaze fell on the other men in the room. Two were large and brutish looking, broad shoulders and thick armed, their features similar enough for her to assume they were brothers. They loomed in the back corner watching her with a wary fascination, as though she was some exotic creature an a zoo.

The last man watched her as well and there was sadness and determination in the deep brown eyes set in his young/old face. Harker. She recognized him from the many times she and Sasha had been to the theater. He had held back, she recalled, when Richard Hatcher had first introduced the two women, at an after theater party at Richard's home when Sasha first arrived. Harker's premature gray hair and dour expression markedly opposite to the cheerful Lord, who had greeted all with a smile. Holmwood had chided his friend for his shyness and had left with him soon after.

Feigning ignorance, Molly asked calmly, "Why have you brought me here?" Pulling her hands from Seward's grip she folded her arms across her chest. "Where is Tobias?"

The last thing she remembered, she had been getting into Sasha's carriage while Tobias placed their shopping on the back bumper. It had happened so quickly she barely had time to shout a warning.

Seward rose to his feet and motioned to the two men in the back to leave. They complied, drawing the door closed behind them. Setting the basin down Seward turned and regarded Molly for a moment, then sat quickly reaching for the fastenings of her cloak. The young woman knew immediately what the man sought. After Holmwood's death, Sasha had healed the wound on Molly's neck as a precaution. Molly was crushed. She had wanted to carry Sasha's mark there as an outward sign of their deeper commitment. Sasha had relented, somewhat, and the secret sign of the lover's devotion was now on Molly's inner thigh. Sasha's companion was glad now she had yielded to her lover's greater wisdom.

Knowing he expected it, Molly fought Seward's grip and he grabbed her hands in one of his and finally succeeded in opening the collar of her blouse. A sigh of relief escaped the doctor's lips when he examined her neck. Pulling a small crucifix from his pocket he pressed it to Molly's forehead. When she showed no reaction he put it away. Panting from the exertion of subduing her Seward rasped out, "Relax Miss Ryan, we only want to help."

"How does being assaulted by you and your 'associates' help me?" She snapped, struggling to remove his hands from her cloak. Molly was angry at herself for being trapped and frightened about what Sasha would do about it at the same time. Sasha had warned her that a showdown at the asylum might come to pass and had made plans to deal with it. She had not counted on Molly's being a prisoner there, however. Trying to stay calm she stopped struggling and waited to hear what the men had planned for them.

Dr. Seward released her and began pacing the room. In a far away voice he spoke.

"On the night of Arthur's death, Jonathan came to me and told me that he had recognized the Countess. I of course thought he meant from functions that he and Arthur had attended when the two of you were present. But I was wrong." He stopped and turned to the now truly concerned young woman on the bed.

"You see, her costume at Arthur's ball revealed more than it covered, dressed as a man, she matched the young warrior at the side of Prince Vlad in pictures he had seen at Dracula's castle. Not a brother as he had thought, but a sister. You have been taken into protective custody while we destroy the vampire that all of London knows as Countess Sasha Rossi." Molly's emerald eyes widened but she did not speak.

Seward looked over at his friend. "They control the minds of their servants to insure loyal guardians to keep them safe in their lairs during the day. She has not been tainted by the vampire's blood as Mina was, the cross is proof of that. Whatever loyalty or protectiveness Miss Ryan feels for this creature is transitory and can be remedied by her death, just as Mina was healed of the burns of the host when Dracula perished."

Jonathan closed his eyes willing the pain of Mina's abandonment to a dark corner of his mind. Looking on, Seward felt for his friend. Knowing the track that Jonathan's mind was traveling, the doctor tried to reassure them both. "No matter that she stayed at the convent, she will be back." Despite herself, Molly gasped softly at Seward's words.

The sound focused Harker's attention on her . Their eyes met and he could tell that the young woman knew as he did that Mina's thrall had not ended at Dracula's death, it merely changed to mourning. The shadow of impending grief now in the emerald eyes was something that Jonathan recognized.

He had seen that look in Mina's eyes as she stumbled into Dracula's castle, his blood soaking into her clothes. He turned away from the awareness in the steady green gaze. Moving to the window he watched the shadows lengthen on the grounds of the asylum.

Turning back to look at Seward, Jonathan broke his silence at last. "She has done well, all these months remaining undetected." Harker gave Molly a slow perusal with his hooded dark eyes and murmured, "she chose her servants better than her predecessor."

At Seward's puzzled face, he pointed out, "Van Helsing did not even know. No boxes of earth, no bloodless corpses, she has even been seen in the daytime." Moving next to Seward who stood at his approach, he met the eyes of his taller friend and the weight of all they had done was visible to their watching captive.

Turning back to Molly, Jonathan realized too that the young woman's defiance was more like what he had seen in Mina, when they suggested using her as a link to Dracula. In the end they had to hypnotize her for it to work at all. He studied the young blonde with a critical eye. Like his lost wife, he knew this girl would never willingly betray the vampire she... loved.

The doctor leaned in, tearing Molly's attention from his friend, his voice full of conviction. "I swear that you will not be lost to darkness as Lucy and Mina were." Patting her unresponsive hand he straightened and pulling Harker aside he said, "She was clever enough to outwit Van Helsing but now that we know her secret, we will end this strain of evil once and for all."

It never occurred to the doctor that Molly was with Sasha completely of her own free will. Seward believed her devotion to Sasha was based purely on the assumption that the young woman had drank the vampire's blood, something he had sought to confirm by the test with the cross. Satisfied with her responses he assumed that Molly had no real link to her vampire Mistress. He was wrong. It was not a drought of blood that was the tie between them, Molly and Sasha were joined a way even a Holy icon could recognize and not condemn, they were soul mates. Concentrating on her dark love, she could feel Sasha's agitation even this far away. Molly, watching the afternoon light streaming in from the dusty window, knew with a bone deep certainty that Sasha would soon be on her way. I have got to get out of here.

"Where is Tobias?" She asked again, drawing the two men out of their conference.

"He has not been harmed. He will give the Countess our message." Seward replied.

"What message?" Molly asked, her mind conjuring all kinds of images, none of them happy ones.

Seeing the look of pain on the small woman's face the Doctor tried to reassure her. "There, there Miss Ryan have no fear, Jonathan and I have dealt with Dracula and emerged victorious. You will soon be free of this monster's hold over you."

Taking her hands into his he stroked them gently, trying to convince her of the necessity of their actions. Turning to Harker he said, "If the Countess is at all like Dracula was, she will attempt to reclaim her servant and then we will have her."

Molly tore her hands from Seward's grip. Emerald eyes flashing she leaped from the bed. "She is NOT a monster! I will not be the bait you use to capture her!"

Before either of the men could react Molly was at the door. Flinging it open she looked quickly left, seeing an empty hallway and a door leading outside, she ran for it. Ten steps into her dash for freedom she was pulled off her feet with a grunt. Turning her head to the side, she saw the cause for her aborted flight.

One of the large men who had been in the room with them earlier was now dressed like an orderly and had a handful of Molly's scarlet gold tresses tangled in his meaty fist.

His dark muddy eyes regarded her and she saw that while he was large and powerful physically, there was a definite lack of intelligence in his curious gaze. Up close she also recognized the smell of him. He was the one who had pulled her off the carriage. Before the ether he had used to send her into unconsciousness had taken effect, the sour sweat and rank breath surrounding her now had filled her nose. Letting go of her hair he switched his grip to a thick arm around her waist and lifting her off her feet, turned and headed back to the room where Harker and Seward were just now reaching the door.

"Ah, well done Simon. The young lady is quite overwrought by the day's events and should not be running about the halls."

Doctor Seward stepped back to the bed and readied the restraints along the sides. Laying the small woman down Simon assisted Seward in securing Molly to the bed. "Go to the dispensary and bring back a sedative for her. Have Peter bring a chair and sit outside her door. It is her first night with us and I want her to be as comfortable as possible, understand?"

The orderly straightened and gave a small bow to the Doctor. In a soft voice completely at odds with his powerful frame he said, "Right away Dr. Seward.”


Chapter Fourteen


A sharp burst of terror lanced through her head and brought Sasha out of her slumber. Flinging back the lid of her earthbox the vampire leaped to the ground and reached out with her mind. As quickly as it came Molly's fear was cut off.

A deep growl erupted from her throat and she dressed quickly, heading for the outer suite. Snarling at the sunlight still pouring in, she paced in the shadows and waited impatiently for confirmation of her worst fears.

Tobias ran into in the parlor, his clothes in disarray, a bandage wrapped around his head and right hand. Seeing Sasha restricted to the shadows he quickly drew the curtains.

"Countess I have failed you!" He cried, falling to his knees.

Sasha crossed the room, her eyes snapping with agitation. Gripping the footman's torn jacket she lifted him up, his feet several inches off the floor. Indigo eyes flashing, she spoke, her low voice dark with barely contained fury. "What happened!?"

"We were on our way back from shopping when we were attacked. I heard Molly cry out and came around from loading her packages to find her being dragged from the carriage by a large man. I ran to her but I was hit from behind. When I came to they were gone and this was on my chest."

Fumbling into his jacket he pulled out a stained and folded piece of paper. Dropping him to the ground, Sasha snatched the note and with trembling hands she opened the document and began to read, rage filling her eyes at every word:


We know who and what you are. Miss Ryan has been taken into our protective custody. She will not be harmed.


Sasha crumpled the note in her hand and threw it into the fireplace. Shaking with a mixture of trepidation for Molly and enmity at her captors she paced the room. The final showdown between herself and her brother's killers had been set in motion.

Tobias collected himself and sighed with regret. He had failed to protect Molly and for the first time since Sasha's arrival felt fear of and for the dark woman in the pit of his belly.

"So the gauntlet has been thrown.” She said, calmly, her indignation muted but still burning in her eyes. “I do not blame you for this Tobias. I knew it would only be a matter of time before those two learned my secret. I forgot that Harker as one of Holmwood's friends would have been at the ball. He must have seen the portraits of Vlad and myself at the castle. In those I looked very much as I did at the party. I should have realized that he would be there, and now Molly is in their clutches because of my arrogance."

Sasha drew a cleansing breath and released it slowly. With Van Helsing out of the way, there was no one to tell them that there was more than one way to link a vampire to her servant. Not giving Molly her blood had been hard but she was grateful for that restraint now. They could test the young woman with holy icons until Hell froze over to no avail.

Focusing on the link that giving herself over to Molly's love had forged between them, she knew Molly was now awake and frightened, not for herself but for her vampire mistress. She concentrated harder and through her companion's eyes could see the room where Molly was being held and the men whose life expectancy could be counted in hours. Oh, how they would pay for this violation. Her wrath at Vlad's death was a shadow compared to the roil of hatred filling her over this abduction. Fools that they were, they had no idea what she was capable of.

Turning to Tobias she chose her words carefully, the scent of his fear stirring the hunting urge, his hazel eyes begging for forgiveness.

"Did you and Giles make the preparations I asked for?" Sasha asked calmly, given the circumstances.

After Holmwood's death Sasha was certain that, a confrontation with the remaining two would more than likely take place at the Asylum. Originally she had intended to infiltrate the Asylum and set Seward's own inmates against him. She had instructed Tobias to obtain, along with a delivery cart, the necessary uniforms to move undetected through the wards of Seward's domain.

Molly's capture had added a bit more danger, but nothing she felt she could not overcome. As a last resort, releasing the inmates would create a diversion if necessary to rescue Molly while she dealt with Seward and Harker.

Relief chased the despair from Tobias' face and he squared his shoulders. "Yes Countess," the young man replied. "The van we bought is in the stables. We will be able to enter the Asylum grounds without any trouble. To anyone it looks like the delivery cart, similar to the ones from the shop where the Asylum gets its provisions. It is our fortune that today is a regularly scheduled delivery day. It will shield you from the last of the daylight."

"And the clothes?" She asked, her sable brow lifting with impatience.

"Yes" he responded.

"Get the wagon and meet me out front. They have trifled with the Dracula clan for the last time."

Sasha entered her sanctuary and went to the trunk holding her male attire and slipped into dark pants and shirt. Her hands trembled and she stopped and sat down on the bed trying to collect herself. Now more than ever she needed to focus.

Closing her eyes she centered herself, calling on the meditations she had learned centuries ago. Willing her mind to stillness she drew in and released her breath several times chanting softly. Calm at last, she sent her mind arcing across the miles and touched the thoughts of her captive lover.

Molly, beloved are you alright?

Yes my dark love I am fine, they have not harmed me. Oh Sasha, they know who you are! They want to kill you.

The blonde's thoughts, colored with the notion of losing Sasha, were bleak and the vampire paused at the intensity flowing from her young lover. Sasha stay away, flee the city.

The vampire realized that her consort believed the Countess would abandon her to save her own life, just as Vlad had done with Mina Harker. It had done no good. They had chased him to the very courtyard of the castle. Sasha chuckled wryly to herself, what life would she have without Molly? She could never go back; the solitary existence she'd lived before coming to London would not be enough to satisfy her ever again.

Do you really think that after all the years it took to find you I would give you up now? Do you honestly think for one moment I would leave you behind? No one in this world can keep me from what is mine, Molly, certainly not Seward and Harker.

As she began her retreat from her lover's thoughts Sasha saw Seward approaching Molly with a syringe. Fresh anger poured into her and she tightened her grip on the young woman's mind. Molly soothed, It is only something to keep me calm, and I tried to run and... Molly's thoughts cut off abruptly as the sedative took effect.

"NO!" Sasha shouted. Leaping to her feet she ran through the lounge, then out of her suite. "Bastards!" The vampire raced through the mansion, staying among the shadows. The clatter of the van arriving out front met her at the front door. Tobias came in holding out a heavy blanket. Draping it over herself, Sasha dashed down the steps and into the back of the awaiting conveyance.

Sasha hid herself amongst the large barrels filling the back of the cart. As the smell of salted fish and other foodstuffs assaulted her nose she stilled her breathing glad that she had the option.

The vampire knew that they were expecting her, and had some idea of what she was capable of due to their previous experience with Vlad. Van Helsing's tutelage gave them some knowledge as to her capabilities and her weaknesses. They would no doubt be armed with crosses and garlic, confident that she would not be able to stand against these most devastating repulsive charms against her kind.

Sasha allowed herself a bitter smile. She had not spent decades in study and meditation for nothing. Van Helsing learned firsthand of the futility of using a Holy icon against her. These men had no idea of all of her Blood gifts. They believed that she could only control the minds her own servants. Their ignorance of her ability to control any mind she chose could aid her once she arrived.

Her only real worry was keeping Molly safe in the ensuing chaos. She would contact her love once she entered the compound. Sasha planned for Tobias to get Molly to safety while she took on the last of her brother's killers. As the cart bumped along she steeled herself for the conflict to come.


Chapter Fifteen


Molly lay still on the pallet, allowing her ears to give her information on her surroundings. Comforted when all she could hear was the subtle whispering flutter of a candle and her own breathing, she slowly opened her eyes and scanned the room. On the table beside her the candle she'd heard flickered in the breeze from the cracked window on the wall at the foot of the bed.

Her smelly guard was nowhere in sight but she was sure he was sitting in a chair outside her door as Seward had instructed. Thankfully, she was no longer restrained, but her head pounded from the after effects of the sedative she had been given. Tensing her limbs she noted a little stiffness from her rough handling, but all in all she felt none the worse for her experiences.

She crossed the room, pulling the chair with her and stepping up onto the seat she peered out the window. She frowned realizing she was now on an upper floor. It was still afternoon but the gathering shadows confirmed that she had been out for some time. The chill breeze felt good on her face. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths to clear the last of the remaining fog from the drugs. Knowing that her lover was most certainly was on her way, Molly turned back to her cell and contemplated her chances of getting out of it before Sasha arrived.

Looking around the room Molly noted there was no vanity or even a chamber pot and her plan of escape had its beginning. Jumping down and taking her chair with her, she crossed back to the door and put her ear to it. She smiled to herself hearing the muttered phrases of the song her guard was singing.

Clearing her throat, she put her mouth to the crack in the door and shouted, “Hello? Are you there? I need to freshen up, may I have a basin or bucket of water?” she heard him stand and unlock the door.

She stepped behind it and raised the chair and brought it down as hard as she could on his head the moment it appeared. He crashed to the floor and she dragged him the rest of the way into the room. Taking his keys, she locked him inside and ran down the hall. Keeping a watch for Dr. Seward or the other orderly she made her way down to the lower levels of the asylum.

Listening intently she moved past the cells of the mad, curious that this night they all seemed to be sleeping. When she first awoke in the room with her captors, she could hear the screams and rants through the floor of the chamber. Best that they are asleep I don't need them letting Seward know where I am. Getting out of here is going to be hard enough.

She came to the end of the corridor and peeked around the corner. Another staircase lead down and a hallway filled with shadows extended to her right. There was a feeble gas light flickering at the head of the stairs. Opting for the lighted path, Molly slipped from the cellblock and descended.

Deep shadows had settled over the grounds of the asylum as the cart rattled up to the loading dock in the back. Sasha lept to the ground and circled to join Tobias at the front. The area was deserted, though she could hear the ranting of the inmates coming from the barred windows on the upper floors.

The Countess sent a tendril of power through the air, seeking malleable minds. The inmates were easy, she sent them into sleep with a mere pulse of energy, there would be no distractions for Seward this night. Further her power sought, finding Molly's guards, one out cold on the floor, the other in the kitchen, finishing his meal. The dockworkers were absent, odd on this delivery day but a fortunate happenstance considering what was about to happen. The raven haired avenger sent the orderly into unconsciousness with his brother.

The vampire found the gentle light of her lover, slipping quietly through the deserted halls, a mere level away from Seward and Harker in the doctor's office. Her thoughts brushed gently against her lover's mind, I am here. Follow the stairs to the left into the kitchen, Tobias will be waiting for you just outside. He will take you back to the estate.

Sasha shut down the communication before Molly's protest was fully lodged. She knew that her lover would not wish to leave her to face the men alone but in this final battle, she needed to know the young woman was out of harm's way. I made that mistake with Holmwood, not this time.

Tobias stood waiting for further orders, his heart racing. Here, in this place, Prince Vlad had faced his enemies and claimed his love. It seemed to him that history was repeating itself. He shuddered remembering that in the end, these same men had killed his friend. He looked up at the dark edifice and knowing Molly was trapped inside prayed for a more favorable outcome.The young servant was ready to do whatever was necessary to bring that about.

Sasha opened her eyes and turned towards Tobias, having caught the edge of his thoughts. “Molly is free of her confinement and on her way to the lower level,” the warmth of pride in her lover's cleverness in her voice. “When she gets here I want you to take her back to the estate, she won't go easily, but I want you both well away from here when this starts.”

Tobias protested immediately. “How can you send us away? Do you really believe that either of us would leave you to fight alone? No, my Lady, I was not there to help your brother, I will not abandon you you as well.”

“I am perfectly capable of disposing of these two without your assistance Tobias, or have the months of me playing the socialite caused you to forget who I am?” Just as Sasha was about to continue her dressing down of the defiant young man in front of her, a scream shattered the quiet of the night. As one, they turned and ran towards the back door of the asylum.

Sasha and Tobias raced down the deserted halls of the hospital, the vampire's inner sense of her lover guiding her. She was furious with herself, and pacing at her side, Tobias was likewise torn. Molly had been in his charge when she was taken. If something happened to her he would never forgive himself. Nor he suspected, would the Countess.

Light and the sound of voices coming from a room ahead of them forced Sasha to slow her rush to her lover's side. Flinging an arm out, she slowed Tobias' advance as well. Drawing in a breath she scented the air, detecting Molly and her captors and a grim smile turned up her well shaped lips. In the silence around them she could hear an angry tremor in the young woman's voice and she knew her lover was sound, if not safe in the room. Signaling Tobias to stay back, she crept forward until she was just outside the closed door.


Molly struggled in Harker's grip, fury at herself at getting caught lending strength to her body. He was a foot taller and a man, yet she was giving him a run for his money in keeping a hold on her.

“Let me go!” She growled in her best impersonation of Sasha's throaty rumble. “You have no right to keep me here.” Realizing her captor was not going to give in, she turned to Seward, across the room and glared at him. “What do you hope to gain? What has the Countess done to invite this persecution of her?”

“Miss Ryan, surely you must realize what gain we seek here. Whatever veil she has pulled over your eyes, Countess Rossi is a dangerous creature who needs be destroyed. Dracula's line must end.” He replied, taking a long drink from the tumbler in his visibly shaking hands.

“You have not answered my question, Dr. Seward. What is it you think the Countess has done? Has anyone come forward to say they believe her to be a threat? Just what gives you the right to harm one hair on my Mistress' head!” She screamed this last, renewing her fight to be free of Harker's grasp.

“I have seen with my own eyes what vampires are capable of Miss Ryan.” Harker said from behind her. “They portray themselves as charming, provocative, even urbane. But behind that mask, lives a foul darkness that seeks only to draw you in so that it can feed on your blood. They are soulless, dead creatures that well know how to twist the hearts and minds of the living.”

Hearing the sadness in his voice, Molly turned to look up into his sorrowful brown eyes. His pain was there, naked and fresh, as he relived first his captivity and then Mina's desertion of him. The young woman felt a measure of pity for the solicitor's past experiences but it was wiped out by his next words.

Looking over at Seward he offered, “This girl is the best bait and shield we could have, the fiend will fall to us rather than see this one hurt.”

“NOOOOOO!” Molly screamed into his face, startling him into loosening his grip on her. She slammed her foot into his shin and pulled out of his arms, bolting for the door.

Seward got there first, sending her back into Harker's furious custody. “Do not force us to sedate you again, Miss Ryan,” said the doctor, watching her struggle.

“Go ahead, do it,” she retorted. “I will NOT stand idly by while you harm her, you are fools to think otherwise.”

“Miss Ryan, we are under an obligation to stop the spread of this vile contagion. You seem to have a skewed perception of this demon that calls herself ‘Countess Rossi'. Mr. Harker and I know all too well what the truth is.”

His eyes meet his friend's over Molly's head and the weight of all that had been done to try to save Lucy and destroy Dracula is in both men's expressions.

“You know nothing of her,” Molly snapped back. “You only presume that you have the right to be judge, jury and executioner for a woman who has done nothing to invite your scrutiny or enmity. You still have not given me one example of any act committed by the Countess that would indicate that your pursuit of her has merit. In fact it is you, your actions in holding me against my will that deserve an accounting.”

Listening outside the room, Sasha wanted to cheer. The Transylvanian was quietly impressed with her young friend's argument. She grinned at the anger in her lover's voice. No one had ever defended her so fiercely. Were it not for her determination to see these men die for killing her brother, she would have simply stepped forward and demanded Molly's release. But, despite the eloquence of her companion's words on her behalf, the vampire knew that Harker and Seward were just as committed in their plan to end her life as she was to have her own revenge. Molly was correct in her assessment of the men's actions in kidnapping her. They, like Holmwood, would pay for two crimes tonight.

“This so called Countess has evidently put some sort of spell on you for you to defend her so,”Seward said. “It is clear proof of what Jonathan was saying about their ability to appear benign and influence the minds of those around them.”

The doctor set down his drink and went around to the front side of his desk. He unlocked a side drawer and removed a vial, syringe and a revolver. Setting down the revolver down and after checking the label, he broke the seal on the vial. Loading the syringe he turned towards the two nodding at his friend who took a tighter hold on the young woman. “I am sorry Miss Ryan but, I can see we will have to sedate you for your own safety.”

Sasha had heard enough. Gathering herself, she kicked the door open and strode boldly into the room. Harker held Molly on the far side of the medium sized space in front of a low couch. Seward, syringe in hand was halfway to them. Behind him on the desk was the revolver and a large silver crucifix. The vampire's eyes narrowed at the tableau, her fists tight at the sight of her lover being manhandled, again. “What is the meaning of this outrage?” she roared, blue eyes filled with anger. “Release my companion at once!”

Seward gaped at Sasha, frozen in mid-step. His eyes flicked to the small window of the office where the last of the day's sunlight was still streaming in. “How?? What are you doing here?” The doctor was at a loss; this is not at all how he imagined trapping the vampire would go.

Sasha grinned, a fierce flash of teeth. “You send me a note telling me you have taken my companion into your “custody” and you wonder why I am here? You threw a gauntlet down, Dr. Seward, what did you think was going to happen?”

In her peripheral, she kept an eye on Harker who did not seem at all surprised to see her. She noted his flick of the eye towards the revolver on the desk and her posture shifted, moving her body over the balls of her feet. Sasha was concerned about Molly, still in Harker's grip but she knew as her captors had recently learned, Molly was more than capable of freeing herself.

Reading her lover's body language, Molly knew the only thing stopping Sasha was Harker's hold on her. She locked eyes with the vampire and then scraped her foot down Harker's shin again. Following up with a shove, he fell away from her, dropping to the couch with a curse. He recovered quickly and grabbed the hem of her cloak as she moved towards the safety of the door once again. Molly stumbled and went down but turning aside, she kicked out and the sound of Harker's wrist breaking was followed quickly by his scream. The young woman scrambled away, flinging herself under the desk, as Harker rocked back on the couch, cradling his arm.

Snapped out of his shock at his friend's cry of pain, Seward dropped the syringe and lunged for the gun on his desk, grabbing for it just as Molly popped up on the other side. He got his hand on it but before he could bring it around to aim at Sasha, Molly hooked her arm in his, throwing him off balance. As fast as the vampire was, the doctor driven by desperation, was faster still and he wrenched free of Molly pointing the gun at Sasha, who was a mere step away.

“Stop!” He cried. “I don't want to have to shoot you in front of Miss Ryan, but I will.” He moved to the side, keeping both women in his sights. “Get back, both of you.”

Sasha stepped back, raising her hands in apparent surrender. “Dr. Seward if you truly have a measure of consideration for my companion, please let her leave. Whatever your grievance against me, she has no part in it.”

Molly's jaw dropped at Sasha's words. “You cannot expect me to leave you here so he can kill you out of my sight!” She said, fists clenched. “I won't! Either we leave together or not at all!”

It was Seward's turn to drop his jaw. “Miss Ryan, you can't mean that!” He turned to Sasha, the revolver trembling in his hand.”What manner of foul enchantment have you conjured to have this innocent girl so enamoured of you? First Lucy then Mina, and now poor Miss Ryan. The taint of Dracula must end, I will see no more young women lost to this corruption.” He raised the weapon, aiming at her heart.

Before Sasha could move, Tobias burst into the room and shoving Sasha out of the way, slammed into Seward. In a tangle of arms and legs, they rolled across the floor fighting over the revolver. In the confusion Harker lept to his feet and snatched up the cross from the desk. A soft glow began as he turned towards the vampire.

Molly rolled across the desk in a fury and placed herself between her lover and the menace of the icon. “Sasha go!” she shouted backing her lover astonished towards the door.

It was almost too much for the vampire to take in. Her servants were fighting her enemies on her behalf while she stood gawking. She took a step back and looked to where Tobias was still grappling with the doctor. As she watched, Tobias gained the upper hand and wrenched the gun from Seward's hand in triumph. Swinging low he knocked the older man out and turned to the rest of the room.

Harker shoved Molly to the floor into the arms of the young man and stepped towards Sasha again, holding the cross high. She backed away, seemingly retreating before the faith inspired light of the cross. She stepped into the hall and around the doorway to give herself some room and as the vampire hoped, he followed.

What the solicitor had not counted on was the swiftness with which Sasha was able to shift into her wolf form. When Jonathan cleared the portal, he was faced not by a cowed vampire but a bristling lupine, snarling and ready to spring.

Growling, teeth bared, the wolf paced slowly forward and Harker swung the cross like a sword before him in vain hope of salvation. The transformed Countess closed on him and with a savage howl fell upon the doomed solicitor, jaws closing on his throat. Man and beast hit the floor and with a gurgling cough Jonathan Harker died, still clutching the now useless cross. Sasha rose up from her kill, blood dripping from her jaws, turning toward the door where Molly had just appeared.

The young woman stopped, taking in the scene before her. Harker lay sprawled just outside the door, his blood pooling beneath him and a large predator stood growling over his body. No matter her form, Molly had no fear of her lover. She had strolled through the forests on the estate with Sasha in wolf form at her side many times. She trusted in the knowledge that here was a beast that would never harm nor allow harm to come to her.

She knelt down and slowly reached out to the bristling wolf. In a gentle voice she spoke, “Ease down, we are safe now.” She continued to hold out her hand out, watching the horrible tension in the body before her begin to relax.

The great creature's hackles lowered and it's ears came up as it rose from it's crouch over Harker's body. The blood drenched lips descended and the lupine hunter's tongue licked the sharp teeth. Molly could still see the haze of bloodlust in the lupine eyes but even that began to clear as she continued to meet the feral gaze of her transformed lover. “That's right, Sasha come back to me.” Her lover said and shuffled a bit closer.

In the office, Tobias was searching for something to bind the unconscious doctor with. He could hear Molly speaking in a low tone but not what she was saying. He assumed that Harker was dead and she was soothing an enraged Countess. You take care of her Molly, I'll take care of this.

On a shelf in a cabinet at the back of the office he discovered several straight jackets. Shaking one out he looked over at the physician and grinned. Turnabout is fair play Doctor. He opened the various straps and buckles and wrapped the coat around his former adversary, securing him. Picking up the dropped syringe he plunged it into the doctor's neck and delivered its contents to his bloodstream. That ought to keep you quiet ‘til the Countess decides what she wants to do with you.

He turned towards the door, noting the spreading pool of blood and prayed that it was Harker's. He called out, “Molly, are you and the Countess alright?” The young man was fairly certain it was Jonathan who lay just out of sight. Had it been the Countess, the calm tones he heard coming from his friend would be wails of grief. Nevertheless, he stayed inside the office. He knew, as Molly did, that after a kill the Countess was not to be approached lightly.

“We're fine Tobias.” she answered. “Stay back, keep an eye on the doctor and we'll be there in a few minutes.”

Molly looked back at the doorway to make certain it stayed empty then returned her attention to Sasha. The vampire had regained her human form and stood looking down at the pool of blood. She shook herself, licking her lips. The quick change between forms came with a price and although blood was the coin of her existence, she had no interest in tainting her body with the dead blood of her brother's killer.

Molly walked around Harker's body and reached out to her lover.”Sasha, are you alright?” She asked softly. Stroking the vampire's arm she could feel a fine trembling running through the tall body. She knew what she would see when her companion's eyes rose to meet hers. The scarlet burn of hunger was there, in echo to what she could sense coming from Sasha. She quickly reached for the collar of her cloak and opened it. Pulling down the neck of her dress she offered herself to her mistress. “A small taste now, beloved, to see you through. We still have much to do tonight.”

Sasha pulled her companion into her arms and took the offering gladly. She could hear the stirring of the inmates above them. Her shapeshift released them from her control and their screams and howls would soon echo through the upper floors.

She drank, drawing deeply of the potent elixir in her lover's veins. None she had ever fed upon satisfied her hunger the way Molly did. The young woman's willingness to be whatever Sasha needed was a balm to her soul, a gift beyond measure.

Molly's arms went around the dark woman's waist and Sasha could hear the increase in her breathing. She enjoyed the fact that feeding her aroused her blonde companion, something she intended to take advantage of when the night's work was done.

Sasha withdrew her fangs but held her lover close for a few moments more, savoring the feel of the maiden's body pressed against her. Molly laid a soft kiss on Sasha's neck. We need to leave soon my love, I crave a deeper touch. Sasha leaned back, a sultry smile crossing her blood tinted lips at her companion's thoughts. She bent down, capturing the younger woman's lips in a fierce kiss. All that you desire and more. She sent images into Molly's mind of what the end of their night would hold and the blonde's knees buckled. Another smile, filled with wicked promise graced the vampire's features before she released her friend and stepped back. She stilled the passions in her body and turned her mind towards the cooling flesh of Jonathan Harker.

Molly composed herself with difficulty and rearranged her clothes. Tobias knew they were lovers but it need not be flaunted, especially given their current circumstance. She poked her head into the office to check on him. He was sitting on the desk with the revolver pointed at Seward's still trussed up and unconscious form. He gave he a brief smile and returned to his guard duty. Seeing he had things well in hand, she joined her lover in contemplating Harker's body.

“What are we going to do with them Sasha?” The younger woman asked. ”What if Harker told someone he would be at the asylum tonight? Not to mention that his business associates will wonder why he is not at his desk when the work week begins.” The young woman had not given much thought to what would happen beyond trying to escape their custody. She knew Sasha had worked up a plan but not the specifics. Her capture had thrown everything into the air.

“The fact that they are known to be friends is something that will work in our favor. Even if he let on that he would be visiting the doctor tonight, I doubt that he would mention their plans to eliminate me. Or kidnap you.” Sasha replied. “No one other than the madmen's keepers are aware that we are here, so there is no need to worry.”

Without looking, Soina could hear and feel the tension in her lover and tried to reassure her. She continued, “It was my original intention to set the inmates against Dr. Seward. I see no reason why Harker cannot be a victim of theirs as well. There are at least two inmates that are here because they were accused of cannibalism. His wounds will be seen as their work.”

Molly nodded, “Security here is almost nonexistent. Other than the orderly that kidnapped me and his partner, I saw no other guards on my way down here. I cannot believe the doctor is so careless, the inmates are dangerous.”

Sasha chuckled darkly, ”Another thing in our favor. It is likely that he gave the other staff the night off to keep the number of people who knew you were here down. At any rate, it is time to finish this so we can get on with our lives.”

Sasha stepped into the office and regarded Tobias and his prisoner. She was more than ready to finish with this final piece of vengeance for her brother's death. She had done what she had set out to do but beyond that, she wanted to take Molly away from this place. To truly build a life with her far from England and show her the world. But first, she had to insure that none were left behind to hunt her again.

She cast her power out, finding the orderly in the kitchen. He had awakened and resumed his meal, seemingly unaware that anything unusual had happened. The vampire flexed her will and he dropped the spoon in his hand, halfway to his mouth and stood. Come to me, she commanded, and he abandoned his meal, heading for the office.

Molly entered the room and moved to stand by Tobias. They shared a look and turned to wait to see what the Countess had in mind for removing not only Harker's body but making sure Seward was no longer a threat. The young woman had no doubt that Sasha had an idea of what to do. Her lover had after all, managed to arrive at the asylum in broad daylight, was proof of her ability to make plans for any eventuality.

“Molly, do you still have the keys you took from the guard?” Sasha asked as she knelt at the doctor's side.

“Yes,” Molly answered, fishing them out of her skirt pocket the young woman moved to kneel at Seward's side as well. She handed them to Sasha and after a quick kiss to her lover's cheek, she stepped back to Tobias' side. He leaned casually against the desk but stood, bringing the pistol up to aim when the large form of the orderly filled the doorway.

“No! He is no threat now and we need him,” Sasha barked. At Tobias' confused look she added, “Unless you want to carry both his and Harker's bodies?” pointing down at the still unconscious Seward. Comprehension filled his hazel eyes and he shook his head, sitting back down on the desk.

Sasha faced the orderly and reached out her hand, giving the keys in it a shake. “Go to the room where you were keeping Miss Ryan and return here with your henchman,” she ordered. “Bring back a stretcher for the doctor as well.” He blinked slowly at her then stepped forward taking the keys. “Right away, Ma'am.”

Molly watched the man lumber out and then turned to her lover. “Sasha what are we going to do?” Now that the immediate danger had passed she let worry creep in as to how they were going to make this look like anything other than a murder in need of investigation.

“My original plan was to set the inmates loose and have them take care of the doctor for me. That has not changed. Harker will be a casualty of the riot, just as the doctor will be. They played into my hands by sending the staff away. No one knows we were here except the orderlies who helped Seward take you. Sweeping their minds clean of our presence is a small matter and questioning the inmates will bear no fruit when the authorities finally arrive.”

Molly nodded her understanding. “No one ever truly believes what the mad have to say.”

“Correct. Now, I want you and Tobias to wait for me in the wagon.” She held up a hand to silence their duet of angry protests. “There is nothing further you can do here to aid me. When the inmates are released, I want you safely out of their path. I am grateful for your assistance and support but this final act is mine to play out.”

Realizing that further protest would be useless, Tobias headed out the door, pausing only to give Sasha Seward's revolver. “We will be ready to go when you are, My Lady.” He promised. Sasha nodded taking the gun, her eyes already on her upset Companion.

Molly had stayed where she was, unwilling to leave Sasha in what she felt was still a dangerous situation. The young woman was now slumped against the desk, head down, arms crossed over her chest, her jaw clenched in frustrated anger. She raised her eyes to her lover's to restart her argument and stopped, lost in indigo depths shining with unmistakable love.

Sasha placed a long finger against Molly's coral lips. Replacing her finger with her own lips she kissed her lover until she could feel the angry tension ease. Releasing the young woman she stepped back and turned away, her eyes falling on Seward, reminding her of her purpose.

“Please, Molly I need you to go with Tobias and wait for me. What I have to do to make this work requires the utmost focus and if you are here I could become distracted at an inopportune moment. Trust me, I will not let anything or anyone keep me from your side. I have already proven that once today haven't I?”

Despite her fear, Molly smiled and nodded. “I just...” Sasha kissed her again and turned her towards the door. “I know, I will be along shortly.”

Sasha watched until Molly disappeared down the corridor leading to the kitchen. When she was certain she wasn't coming back she returned to the office. Grasping the back of the doctor's collar she dragged him out and lay him down beside Harker.

Looking up at the sound of footsteps she was pleased to see the two orderlies returning with the stretcher she'd requested. She stepped aside and directed the men to place first Harker and then Seward on the pallet. “We will take them to the Green Ward,” she said.

The vampire felt the flash of fear her words caused in the men. The ward she spoke of held the the criminally insane, those unable to ever be rehabilitated, often drugged or beaten and experimented on by Seward with the orderlies' help.

The brothers lifted the pallet with practiced ease and Sasha followed, senses forward. This was the difficult part of her plan. The minds of the mad were not always easily manipulated, sending them to sleep had been simple, getting them to riot was another matter.

As they moved deeper into the asylum Soja kept a mental hold on the pallet bearers then, extending herself even further, she sent her power out, touching the minds of the inmates.

The vampire drew out their remembrances of mistreatment, deprivation and fear, centered on the form of the doctor now being brought helpless into their midst. Their anger began to pulse against her, scarlet waves of danger that she rode in fierce joy. The inmates began to beat upon the doors and bars, snarling at the orderlies who had been the instruments used when punishment was meted out.

By the time they reached the iron wrapped door to the ward containing most dangerous patients, the ranting and banging of the inmates had risen to an ear ringing cacophony.

“This will do.” she ordered. Settling the stretcher on the floor the two large men looked around in concern, turning to the vampire in vain hope of protection. “Keys!” she barked and Simon reached out a trembling hand to give them to her. Waving his attempt away she pointed to the large door and said, “I want you to go through and unlock all the cells on this ward.”

She could feel Simon trying to resist her command and flexed her will around his mind. His fear retreated and he went for the outer door without further hesitation. “You there, Peter.” She called to the second orderly. “Help me get the doctor out of the straightjacket.” The Countess wanted to ensure that the returning staff had no reason to question the scene she was setting. A bound Seward trapped inside would raise questions. Quickly unbinding the doctor, they lay him once again atop his dead companion.

Simon swung the heavy portal wide and all along the newly revealed corridor she could see and hear the howling horde within. These men would be the instruments of the final act of her vengeance. She sent her power out, seizing ruthless control of each one as the ten cells were unbarred. Their hunger for destruction was beating in her head, and the various desires of the madmen nearly overcame her ability to keep control over them.

This had been why she had not wanted neither Tobias or Molly with her. Any distraction at this point would have been disastrous. These, the most violent and cunning of the inmates, were stretching her abilities to their limits.

As Simon hurried back to her side the inmates watched him as if he were a gazelle moving through hungry lions. She reached out her hand and he meekly took it, a smile of gratitude on his lips and relief in the muddy brown gaze. She smiled back, taking the keys from him, her own eyes cold and dead as he would soon be.

“Take the pallet inside.” The vampire ordered. Shock and comprehension showed on the faces of both men, turning quickly to horror. “Do it now!” she barked. Shaking with fear of both the dark haired woman and the madmen now filling the corridor they took up their gristly burden and entered the ward.

The smell of Harker's blood wafted down the hall and the inmates sniffed the air, two of them licking their lips. Quickly setting down the pallet the orderlies started backing away. They stopped uncertain when Doctor Seward moaned, sitting up.

The tall man looked around in confusion not understanding where he was. He climbed awkwardly to his feet, stiff from being trussed up in the straightjacket. The vampire watched comprehension dawn on Seward's face as he realized his worst nightmare surrounded him. Stumbling back against the wall the physician gaped first at Harker's ravaged body then turned towards the door and saw Sasha there, smirking at him.

“Countess! Please, no, no, not this!” The Doctor cried out. He noticed his henchmen standing frozen in the hall and a flicker of hope crossed his face. “Simon, Peter, help me!” Neither man heard, they were focused on the drooling madmen mere feet away and moving slowly closer.

Sasha laughed saying, “You and your friends are about to find justice at the hands of those you have harmed. I thought it a fitting tribute to my brother.” With that, dropping the asylum keys on the floor, she slammed the door and released her hold on the patient's minds. An unearthly howl erupted from ten throats as the they fell on the orderlies and their master.

Leaning against the portal she listened to the demise of the last of her enemies. “Vlad,” she whispered, “The house of the Dracul stands triumphant once again. Those who violated our home and took you from me have paid the final price for their sacrilege.” She left the ward without a backward glance.

Sasha descended through the asylum ignoring the noise around her. With Seward and the orderlies out of the picture, tomorrow's returning staff would face pure chaos. The dark woman was well satisfied with her plan's completion. All that remained was to collect Molly and Tobias and be gone from this accursed place.



Chapter Sixteen

Back at the estate, the women retired to Sasha's rooms, Molly had ordered a bath drawn and as they waited they sat in front of the fire, each lost in her own thoughts.

Molly fretted, worried that Sasha would leave her behind despite their declared love. She feared reaching out to touch Sasha's thoughts, terrified of what she would hear. Sasha for her part, was concerned about what becoming the vampire's true consort would do to the bright light the young woman had brought to her life.

Unable to sit still the Countess rose and began to pace. She knew in her heart of hearts she could not, would not go back to her solitary existence. Molly was a part of her now, their souls were inextricably entwined. She felt the turmoil in her young lover and knew only her reassurance would ease the troubling thoughts.

The dark woman quickly crossed back to the couch where Molly still sat, staring at her clenched fists. Dark green eyes slowly rose to her face, the young body stiff with tension. Sasha took her hands, raised them to her lips, bestowing a soft kiss on Molly's knuckles. “Now that my vengeance is done, will you join with me Molly?” She asked, hope burning in the cerulean depths of her eyes. “There is so much I want to share with you.”

Relief turned Molly's muscles to water and she collapsed into Sasha's embrace, tears streaming down her face. “Oh, Sasha,” She sobbed. “I thought... I was so... Yes! Wherever you go all I ask is... please, take me with you.”

“Molly, my beloved. Know this now and never doubt again, I will never leave you.” Sasha vowed, speaking aloud and sending the words directly into her consort's mind.

“But now you must choose. You know that to live as I do requires taking lives. You are the embodiment of the sun itself to me, I would not darken that light for all the joys of heaven. Are you ready to give up this mortal life and walk with me forever an outcast? Are you once again ready to do all that it means to be my consort, my Bride?”

Molly never hesitated. “Yes Sasha, yes. Did I not say that while I exist, you would not be alone? I meant it then as well as now.” She raised Sasha's large hands, kissed the palms and said, “As for taking lives to sustain us well, I know you feed upon the lowlifes and predators that harm the innocent. I would do the same, making what could be seen as evil into something that serves the greater good.”

The vampire searched the jade eyes, sending a pulse of power out to gauge the young woman's sincerity. She kept out of Molly's thoughts as a rule but this was too important not to be absolutely certain of her lover's commitment.

“So be it.” Sasha said, giving in to what she already knew was fated to be. “The process is not easy, and it is painful. But, never fear, I will be with you every step of the way.” Molly leaped into Sasha's lap and hugged her for all she was worth. “Thank you my love, I am not afraid.”

Denise came to the door announcing that their bath was ready. The two women rose and followed her out, hand in hand. Sasha looked down at her giddy companion. Now that her vengeance was done she wanted out of England.

“As soon as possible I want to return to my Naples estate.” She stated settling into the long tub with her lover tucked in front of her. “Tobias has proven himself to be reliable and trustworthy. I had intended to leave this estate to you when I departed these shores but since you are to accompany me, I think it would be appropriate to give it to him.”

“Yes,” Molly agreed. “He has more than shown his loyalty to both of us.” She turned in Sasha's arms and picked up the washcloth and began running it over the Countess' neck and shoulders. “I will miss him but I am eager to be gone from here and start our new life together.”

Sasha slid her legs around Molly and drew her into a long kiss. Now that they were safe, her previous ardor from the fight in the asylum returned with a heated rush. The kiss grew and hands replaced the cloth moving over her skin. “This is the first night of that new life my love.” The Countess whispered into the ear she was nibbling on. She licked and nipped her way down her consort's neck and Molly responded by returning the favor.

Soap slicked skin slid together as the two women embraced. Water splashed to the floor and the soft sounds of pleasure began to fill the room. “Let's take this to drier accommodations shall we?' Sasha suggested, her passions rising almost beyond caring.

“Yes, please” Molly murmured, her teeth reluctantly releasing their possession of Sasha's pebbled nipple.

Rising from the tub, the older woman reached over to the bench nearby and snagged one of the soft towels Denise had provided. After briskly drying them both she swept her lover into her arms. Molly wrapped herself around her tall friend as they moved, kissing all the way down the hall to Sasha's suite.

Sasha marveled at how her life had changed in a few short months. Looking deep into the emerald fire of Molly's eyes she saw desire, anticipation and above all; unconditional, unshakeable love.

She knew a moment of regret that her brother would never meet Molly and acknowledged that had Vlad not died she would likely would have not met her either. Fate, she thought, is not without a sense of irony.

Molly reached up, moving a few strands of still damp hair from her lover's burning blue eyes. Although she felt Sasha's pain at the loss of her brother, she could not find it in herself to be sorry that his death brought them together. The merchant's daughter knew only time would heal that particular wound and she vowed to spend the rest of her new life helping Sasha do it. Starting now she resolved .

Sasha sat on the bed, then leaned against the headboard, settling Molly in her lap. In rare delight, Molly gazed down into Sasha's eyes. “I believe I left off... here?” Molly said playfully pinching Sasha's nipple. The vampire drew in a deep breath and released her morose thoughts. “Yes, exactly, and I believe I was.. Here.”, Sasha answered tracing a circle around Molly's bellybutton in imitation of a touch her lover wanted much lower.

Molly grabbed the teasing digit and brought it to her mouth sucking it then, rising up on her knees she directed it to the moist warmth between her legs. Sasha needed no further encouragement and entered her consort in one stroke. Drawing slowly out she swirled her thumb around Molly's clit, then drove into her again and again, adding a finger each time. The younger woman's hips matched her stroke for stroke until the vampire's entire hand filled Molly's burning core.

Sweat poured from both their bodies and Sasha slowed her furious pounding to savor the gift of her partner's unbridled passion. Molly's breasts glistened and bobbed with her motion and Sasha withdrew her hand, painting the hardened nipples with Molly's juices. Pushing them together she suckled hungrily.

“Yess Sasha, Yes!” Molly cried out, gripping Sasha's shoulders, her nails digging in, piercing the vampire's flesh. Lost in sensation she painted her pleasure down her lover's back in bright red furrows.

Bringing her fingers to her mouth Molly tasted the elixir of Sasha's blood for the first time, baring her heart and soul even as she thighs spread wider for Sasha's hungry fist. Sasha hissed as the bright pain of her shredding flesh penetrated her lustful haze. Opening her eyes the sight before sent her passions even higher.

Molly's lips were stained with her blood and she captured them in a fierce kiss. Her teeth pierced the soft flesh and their mingled essence filled her mouth. Molly moaned into the kiss drawing her tongue across the fangs, adding more blood to the heated exchange.

The raven haired Carpathian's hand returned to Molly's heated center and her lips moved to Molly's neck. Rearing back she struck just as the first spasms of the young woman's orgasm tightened around her wrist.

Molly froze in place, her blood flowing into Sasha's mouth, her release pouring out at the same time The vampire locked her mouth around the wound, sucking until the last pulses of her consort's climax faded. Slowly withdrawing both her hand and her fangs she held Molly while her body trembled from the intensity of their lovemaking.

The young woman drew a shuddering breath and wrapped weak arms around her mistress, a smile of satisfaction turning up her lips. Molly turned her head and laid a soft kiss on Sasha's breast. The blonde was still limp with afterglow but her green eyes were clear and filled with desire when they met Sasha's indigo gaze. “Give me but a moment, beloved.” Molly said. “I have plans for you as soon as my legs are working properly.”

The Countess chuckled and said, “Take what time you need, little one, we have all night.” Molly purred and swirled her hips, grinding into the wetness she could feel mingling with her own. “Oh Sasha, not just this night but all the nights to come.” She kissed the dark haired woman tasting once again the mingled flavor of their blood.

Sasha pulled back and stared for a moment into space considering what she had just heard. Nothing stood between them and she had waited long enough to make Molly truly hers.

“I have never made another vampire in all the long years I have been one.” Sasha said “Once done it can only be undone by true death.” Seeing that she had her lover's complete and rapt attention, the older woman continued. “You do not have to become like me to be with me. We can go on as before, you as my companion and daytime guardian. There is much living for you to do my dear, I would have you know that joy as fully as possible.”

Molly could not speak past the lump that had risen in her throat. She had no illusions as to what Sasha meant. The young woman knew her lover was giving her time to consider what she would be giving up in becoming Nosferatu.

On the night of Holmwood's death, having felt the deep loneliness that Sasha masked, Molly had determined she had no other place in all the world than at this woman's side. Grateful for mistress' consideration but knowing her own truth, she sent her answer straight into the vampire's mind. My life did not truly begin until you came into it. I have been yours since the first time our eyes met, Sasha. Now at last, you are free to be mine.











Molly wrapped her arms around her lover, resting her head on Sasha's shoulder as they stood in their stateroom watching the harbor of New York take on definition. They were moving to the States and Sasha grinned over the head of her young companion, feeling the fine tremble of excitement she was unable to hide from her tall friend.

Sasha could not resist a gentle jibe. “Is it the theatre in the city or desire to shake up the social order that appeals to you most about returning to New York, my love?” A sunny grin and a mischievous twinkle in her sea green eyes accompanied Molly's response of, “Both, of course!” Sasha laughed and they shared a kiss before turning again to watch the city come closer.

Despite her fears, joining with Sasha had not dimmed the light of Molly's soul one bit. If anything, becoming a vampire had ignited a fire of justice that burned all miscreants caught in it to cinders. Molly was delighted when men of ill intent made the mistake of thinking the sweet faced blonde with the spring grass eyes could be their next victim. The other side of that deadly coin was a compassionate crusader who offered aid and comfort to the less fortunate whenever she could. Just like she did on our last trip to the States Sasha remembered.

They had been returning to Naples after spending time in upstate New York setting up a new residence when their ship had been diverted. Crew and passengers alike had been roused from their berths that night as the Carpathia sped to rescue the survivors of the Titanic. Molly had joined the crew and others in offering whatever solace was possible to the traumatized women who were the first unfortunates plucked from the water.

Later, Sasha strode down the deck of the Carpathia in search of Molly, mindful of the desolate people huddled in whatever spot that could accommodate them all around her. When she did not find her helping to render first aid to the survivors, she sent out a silent call to her partner. The gentle caress of Molly's thoughts sent her below toward their stateroom.

Sasha entered to the sound of female voices speaking low but with an intensity that piqued her interest. Their stateroom had been pressed into voluntary service as housing for some of the women survivors and Molly was presently in deep discussion with the most flamboyant of them all, Mrs. Margaret Brown.

Despite the tragedy and chaos around her Mrs. Brown had retained her dignity. It was being said that she even refused to let the oarsmen give up the search for other passengers when she was safely aboard a lifeboat. She and Sasha's lover had bonded quickly over the course of the night the pair spoke earnestly about what could be done for the people who had lost all in the shipwreck.

“It needs no thanks Mrs. Brown, seeing things as they were, how could we do otherwise?” Molly was saying as Sasha entered.

“I am still grateful Miss Ryan to you and the Countess,” she said with a nod in Sasha's direction. “It might had been the end of us all had your ship not come to our aid.”

Molly shook her head. “I can only take credit for my own actions and did no more than anyone with compassion might have done to help.”

“In that case let me infringe upon your goodwill further and ask that you and the Countess entreat others who, like yourselves, have means to give funding to those who have none?” Mrs. Brown looked to both women with hope in her eyes.

Sasha spoke up. “All than we can, we will do dear lady.” The was no hesitation in either of the vampires, knowing all too well what their lives would be like if they did not have the means to live as well as they did.

For the remainder of the voyage Sasha, Molly and Mrs. Brown worked tirelessly helping the survivors and calling upon the wealthy passengers of the Carpathia to give generously to those in need. By the time the ship landed in New York Molly was inspired to become a clandestine member of the movement for Women's rights. The need to be discreet prevented a more public face but whenever possible both women lent a hand to Mrs. Brown's efforts on the behalf of their gender.

The sound of the boatswain's whistle broke into Sasha's musings and she released Molly so they could gather up their remaining items and disembark. The vampire stopped for a moment and simply watched her young lover moving around the suite remembering the first time she saw her arranging the Countess' accoutrements.

When Sasha had gone to England for vengeance she never imagined that her life would change so much. She had thought that her life as a vampire would only ever contain darkness, blood and after Vlad's death, centuries of loneliness. All her life, no matter how far she roamed, her home had always been the castle on the Borgo Pass in her native Transylvania. Listening to her lover's excited chatter about their new estate in New York, Sasha's heart swelled with love and hope. Now, she knew without a doubt her home was wherever Molly was and she welcomed the future.


The End



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