Bram's Point of View

The party night had more than one side effect for Bram Stoker. Firstly, he started giving more credit to Marianne. He couldn't totally trust her, as it would go against his self preservation instincts. However he decided to let her in a little bit more. That night,sitting in his office with a glass of whiskey in his hand and the sleeves of his vest rolled up to his elbows, Bram weightened his options.

Marianne had just saved his sorry excuse of a person from utmost scandhal in British society. Even Glynnis wouldn't have done that for him and they surely had more history between them than Marianne had with him in a only a couple of days.

Bram sighed and took another sip. It burned all the way down to his stomach. The headache from earlier that day was now raging full force on his skull and he knew that it would hardly get any better in the next 24 hours. The perks of his condition, he snorted bittely at the thought. His body was slowly degenerating and desintegrating. His now showing arms were the proof of that, filled with the marks of rooting. Every scrape, every scratch could possibly turn into a definitive wound if he wasn't careful enough.

A soft knock at the door woke him up from his thoughts. Marianne head appeared next through a crack of the open door.

"Sir? May I come in?" The woman asked with a simpathetic face.

"Please, do."

She opened the door and walked in, once more in her normal day-by-day clothes.

"How are you feeling?"

"Where should I start?" He replied, looking down and frowning lightly at the normal yet hard to answer question.

"Alright,maybe I should have avoided that question altogether. I'm sorry, Sir."

Bram find himself smiling openly at her quick apology.

"No need to apologize. I should be the one apologizing. My behaviour towards you was unacceptable, Mrs. Coatlane. You were remarkable beyond any expectation in the patience and the cunning you showcased tonight. I will forever own you." His voice was friendly, in the same tone that he would use to talk mostly to Arthur.

He saw the woman in front of him avvert her eyes and start blushing a deep pink. It suited her, if was to be completely honest. Not that he was about to tell her that.

"Would you like to sit?" He invited her.

"Thank you." She accepted.

"You know..." Bram started while looking at the remaining amber liquid in his glass with sudden interest. "I think your trial period is over, Mrs. Coatlane. Tonight you proved to be the kind of person I need by my side. Arthur was right was about you and I'm sure he will make a point in remembering that to me from now on till the end of my days. Anyway... There will be more parties in the foreseable future and I would very much like to have you by my side."

"It will be an honor, Sir."

Bram noticed not only her smile but also her eyes scanning his naked forearms.

"They don't look nice, hum?"

"Is... Is the rest of your bodie like that too?" She seemed to hesitate, her expression seeming almost pained at the thought. Disgust of pity?

He only nodded, a lump forming on his troat.

"Sir... May I be so bold as to ask for something of a promise from your part?"

That sparked his interest.

"You're indeed bold. But at the light of the events of this night... Go on."

"I would like to ask that you abstain from feeling ashamed or embarassed around me. It's just that... There is no point in doing so."

His free hand turned into a fist and Bram closed his eyes as he tried to rule his emotions. She had a valid point in her request. He knew she did. Sooner or later she would see the true extent of the plague on him. And yet, accepting it would be like walking naked around the house. He felt... Vulnerable. Exposed.

She seemed to understand, as she raised from the chair and prepared to leave the room.

"Mr. Stoker?" She called him out. He opened his eyes and found Marianne looking at him from across the room with worry in her eyes but also something else. Was that fondness? "No need to commit to anything tonight. Or because of what happened tonight. Just... Think about it, in your own time. It's very late. The house is all locked, I saw to it before coming here. Go to your room and try to rest. Tomorrow will be a new day."

With that words and a smile, Marianne left the room leaving behind a surprised Bram Stoker.

Would that woman be forever a surprise for him?

THE END (Forever..?)

I thought on doing this last longer. But while it had many readers, I only got two reviews and no followers. If after this chapter I get some more interaction, I may consider writing more chapters. I have several ideas on paper already. Now it's up to you all.

Love you anyway.