HELLO EVERYONE!! I'm so sorry I disappeared forever--life, school, lame excuses, I know. I guess I really can't write during the school year... So yeah, I'm not dead, I'm not in jail, and I haven't (yet) been kicked out of school/fired. I've just been super busy.

Anyway, I started working on this one-shot in late October and wanted to have it ready for Halloween. Well, that didn't happen. Then I thought Thanksgiving, or not. And then Christmas... Well, now it's almost New Year's and I'm finally done. I wanted to play around with the old Drac stalks unsuspecting girl, Drac gets jiggy with said girl, Drac goes ga-ga for said girl storyline and give it a twist. When I started writing this, I was reading a lot of classic horror and fairy tales, which should give you a sense of the vibe I was going for. I've never done an OC before, but the super-amazing TheStoryGypsy says it's my best ever so I hope y'all like it! Needless to say, I'd love love love feedback!

I'll just get to the story now, shall I?

As I Lay Me Down To Sleep

I am dreaming when he comes to me. I don't remember what about, but I am dreaming all the same. The last time, I was dreaming of him and he laughed. "Such lovely things in your pretty head," his deep, silky voice resonated off of midnight walls, "such fairy tales…" Then he bent over me, caging me in his strong arms that pressed down into the mattress like the bare trees that used to circle the towns in his homeland long ago when he was called Tepes. Those smooth trees bearing their strange fruit. He bent over me and kissed me roughly, his tongue and teeth hinting to me what was to come—a voluptuous caress and exquisite pain.

But this time he says nothing. The only hint he is here at all is the chill that makes me draw the blankets more snugly around my bare shoulders, the heaviness of the dark, and the sumptuous male scent of leather and spices that I have learned always accompanies him. The cold caresses me like a lover and I shiver as I writhe recklessly out of the bedclothes, aching for him to touch me. Slowly he advances.

As he draws near I see nothing, only a shadow, a patch of gloom darker than the rest. He is where no light can penetrate, blackness in the shape of a man. His lips are silent and his boots make no sound on the floorboards. Finally, one hand grasps my ankle, buried deep beneath heavy quilts. The ice of his fingers penetrates through layers of down and my skin comes alive like a seed long dormant, a wild seed in the hot soil of spring.

Leisurely, methodically, curious hands travel upwards over knobby knees and hips only just beginning to assert their fullness. And then across my chest, past the heart that hammers and the pulse that rushes, to brush the sleep from my waking eyes. We have performed this rite one hundred times and yet my breath comes thickly with anticipation. He peels away layers of wool, cotton, and silk to free me from my wrappings like some cherished Christmas gift; he gasps at my unveiling. And then kisses, delicate kisses fall on my shoulders, my hands, my face—everywhere but my mouth—as I lie gloriously bare beneath him.

I look imperatively into his face, worn smooth by long centuries, and I know no fear. He is the love whose heart does not beat. He is the ache that has no name, although, in truth, he has many. The very first time he came to my neck, I asked it of him.

"I am your dreams," he whispered. He trailed a cold hand over my young girl's breasts, small and pointed beneath my nightgown with the white lace. How I trembled then, I who knew nothing of a man's touch but everything about the horrors of the dark… "I am the one who comes in the night," he continued, drawing closer and closer until he spoke the words directly into my mouth. "I am the one who would give you all that you are forbidden. I am all that you desire, and all that they fear. I am christened unclean, insufferable…in the old tongue I am nosferatu. And you called for me."

And I had. I am always calling for him. I have been calling for him since the day I first wrote his name, not knowing whom it was I was summoning. His first name, his old name: Draculea.

He slipped into my bedroom one night like a thought into an idle mind, a silent figure in priestly black watching me from the shadows at the foot of my bed.

"What do you want?" I asked fearfully. To my bewilderment and delight he laid his hand lightly over my heart, which leapt gladly into his palm.

"This," he breathed.

And those empty figures on the page became a song on my lips.

I sing it now as his practiced tongue circles my breast and I arch into his mouth until it closes around the tightening flesh; "you're teasing," I whisper.

"Never, pet," he reassures me, and he takes my small hands in his large ones and places them on his chest. It is my turn. Carefully, I unfasten the buttons of his jacket and push it from his broad shoulders. The rich, heavy material is over two centuries old. Why, I wonder, does he dress himself in such antiques? It is because he does not want to grow old, he tells me. He cannot bear to place new cloth over his ancient skin and feel his body's age. I reach now for the cords of his waistcoat and, as I do, he seizes my fingers and covers them in fervent kisses. The opulent brocade joins the wool on the floor. Next, his shirt; slowly, torturously, button after button gives way and he growls wolfishly as my fingertips graze his naked chest. He presses his lips to my stomach, my hip, a kiss for every garment I remove.

Finally his pants—the last restraint—and, thus unshrouded, at last he covers my mouth with his own. He kisses me hungrily, savagely, and I fall readily under the spell of his seducing lips. His tongue begs passage and I welcome it eagerly. My own meets it and together we explore dark caverns. He is cool where I am hot, and soft, soft, soft… His hands roam freely as he continues to assault my mouth, finding sweat-slicked curves, silken curls, and the forbidden things they conceal. I gasp as he draws his spidery fingers through molten flesh, teasing, beckoning me closer. I come willingly.

These are the sorts of kisses we were warned about when we sat primly on low chairs with twin braids down our backs. Do not talk to strangers; do not stray from the path. There are wild animals in the forest, little girls, and they will gobble you up! But they did not tell us how delicious was the devouring, how beautiful the beast. I revel in the frightening power of his body, burying my hands in his sleek hair, holding his noble head to my own long after his lips leave mine. For a moment, we are still. He takes me in his arms, his strong, sheltering arms; his fingers find the scars that stipple my neck. I am an addict and these are my track marks, and he devotedly kisses each one, counting them. "So much you have given me…" he murmurs.

Impulsively, I throw my arms around him, begging him please to take me now! As he moves between my parted thighs, I reach to light a candle so that my lover may be more to me than shadow. I wish just this once to know my devourer and witness his feast, but he quickly extinguishes the flame and we are once more plunged into darkness. "No," he admonishes me, "put out the light. And put out the light."

All the better to see you with.

In the gloom, his eyes seem to gleam like beacons calling ships lost at sea to safe harbors—or, perhaps, to their doom on sharp rocks. I remember a cold day in late October, a long-ago trip to the seaside. What great big eyes he has! "Have you said your prayers tonight, my love?" he whispers suddenly. His tone is dark, wicked, heady, and I shiver with delight as errant strands of his ink black hair tickle my collarbone. A covetous hand glides forcefully over my stomach and I nod breathlessly.

I pray every night that I may once more feel the touch of my demon's lips, his hands on me. To hear his voice low in my ear and taste his power on my tongue. Oh, ours is a most benevolent God!

He crawls up my body like a great beast and I feel that faint, familiar fear in the pit of my stomach. That sinfully blissful fear. He will take what he wants and I will let him.

"You are mine," he growls, kissing me fiercely.

"Yes," I gasp. I open myself entirely.

Here, among the books and dolls that were bought for me before I could walk, I am a woman.

At the height of our struggle, I strain my head back into the pillows; the skin of my neck pulls taunt over the vein, which throbs with need, its contents begging to flow through his as well. He runs his lips along its length until, at last, he finds his mooring and sinks into virgin flesh. I cry out, but not in pain, as he begins to draw on the wound, slowly, luxuriously, gulping down all that I have to give. He fills me completely and I him. So thoroughly impaled, I explode through those gaping fonts and into his mouth. And in this moment I am him, and he is me. In this moment I am everything.

Never again will I feel this beautiful, this complete, this loved. I am beautiful only when he looks at me and I am complete only when our bodies are one. I know that when he leaves me I will be cold and alone, and that my heart will be as empty as the passage between my thighs that opens only for him. I am loved only when I am his. A tear slips from my eye, followed by another and another. I cry hard without making a sound, because he cannot hear me weep. I cry silently because I know he feels the same way about weeping as he does about deceit. It repulses him. And I hate myself for doing it, and I hate him for making me do it and yet forbidding it. I cry and I am nothing.

Nothing to him.

We lie spent and sated amidst wilted sheets, my eyes glazed over from the loss of life and his with the glut of it. Like conquerors we survey the carnage of our lovemaking, the discarded garments and sweat-soaked bedclothes that litter the floor like corpses. Just so he must have felt on the battlefield, standing triumphantly over the gory remains of his Muslim enemy. Just so, feasting amidst the legions of staked dead. Omnipotent, untouchable, immortal! Dreamily, I nestle deeper into his murdering arms.

I am thrust back into consciousness when he stirs and I begin to panic, knowing that he is about to abandon me to the harsh, unfeeling light of day. He pulls away and I instinctively roll onto my side, drawing my knees to my chest and curling my body around the void he has left behind. "Please take me with you," I breathe impulsively. He makes no answer.

I rise on my elbow to look at him and he is sitting quietly in his immaculate court dress once more, his dark head sunk in his hands. He does not move and it seems to me as if he is in despair. I feel the blood that he did not take drain from my face. Has he finally tired of me? Am I like the white roses he used to bring me, festering in half-empty, neglected vases after they lost their bloom? White roses for a funeral, someone once told me. His head is still bowed as if in prayer and he sighs heavily. And when, at last, he raises it again, there is no recognition in his eyes.

"Oh, my love," he whispers as if grieving. He bends to kiss my forehead softly. "Oh, my little love…how you have diverted me. But you have not given me so worthy a gift to deserve what I would truly give you." He smoothes my hair back from my face as he looks down at me fondly, and I think I see a twinge of regret before the black of his pupils swallows up that sapphire blue and all is in darkness. Great teeth extend beyond his red lips, those razor sharp fangs that have so often and so deliciously pierced me in tender places.

All the better to taste you with.

He moves to cover my body once more with his. My lover sits heavily atop me as I am forced to lie helplessly between his thighs and I jerk at this sudden contact with hardened flesh. Hands lock each wrist down by my side; his eyes shine with excitement. The flames that rage in my stomach are abruptly snuffed out and replaced with cold terror. It cuts through me like a knife and I begin to choke on it as I struggle vainly beneath him.

"You promised!" I gasp. It is as if all the air has suddenly been sucked from the room and the walls close upon me like a pair of jaws. Yes, he had promised. He had vowed all those many nights ago never to hurt me. He had said that I was his alone—his most precious. Every night that I had swooned in his arms, he had sworn that I would never taste death. And I had trusted those beautiful lips and the words of love they had faithlessly proclaimed.

He laughs, and it is not his usual warm, rich baritone. It is high, cold, and cruel. "I lied," he breathes almost voluptuously.

Ten virgins leer down at me from the watercolor on my wall, five wise, five foolish. My lamp is empty; I have burned all of my oil in the fires of passion and poured it out in libation to venal gods. And what bridegroom will know me now? "Yes," he strokes the weeping wound between my thighs, "so very foolish."

It is now the thin, pale light of early morning. The sky is a cheerless grey as the blackness retreats to the west, a desolate day on which to die. The clouds hang low as if to mask the deed from prying eyes; under their cover, the king of the undead will exact one last tribute from the living. I begin again to sob quietly and he presses his mouth to my eyelids, leaving soft kisses there like coins for the ferryman. The bed on which I have died so many times will now be my tomb.

He pushes me down into the pillows gently, tenderly, as he did the first time I bled for him. Rapt, he twists my hair into a rope and pulls my head back, draping my neck over the cushion my grandmother made me, the one with the pocket for my baby teeth. The executioner's block. I scream a silent prayer to whatever god will listen as he kisses the vein reverently. "Such a pretty neck…"

I begin to thrash wildly at these words, trying desperately to wrest myself from his grasp, but he has already taken what strength I had, and my limbs are heavy, weak, and cold. He sighs wearily and tightens his hold on my wrists until all I can feel are his icy fingers burning into my flesh. "Don't," he scolds me, "you will hurt yourself!" And then he smiles. A ghastly, delirious smile a smile of guilty joy. He lowers his face to mine and his breath is frosty on my cheek. "And that, sweet, is my privilege," he growls softly.

I want to cry for my mother, but my voice is stopped in my throat. My throat…where all things are stilled and waiting for him to take them from me. My cries, my love, my life—all will pause there at twin wounds and no further get. My heart sends forth its offering, its token of love, readily and unbidden. "Such a gift you give me, dearest…" he purrs into my skin, "the one thing to truly touch your heart…"

"Please," I whimper, clenching my eyes shut as he drops one last kiss on my trembling lips. "Just one more moment… Please don't…"

For a moment he looks stricken; a muscle in his face quivers in feigned regret. He reaches into his coat and draws out a pressed linen handkerchief. His porcelain brow is creased as he lovingly wipes my eyes and draws the smooth material under my nose. It smells faintly of old blood. They say the prince of darkness is a gentleman, and he is. Such a fine gentleman.

"But you promised, darling," he coos, tucking the handkerchief back inside and gently smoothing his breast pocket. "You promised me your heart. And you must give it to me, for without it I will surely die." He bends to whisper wetly in my ear. "And ladies always keep their promises. A pound of flesh…" he intones, "a pound of your fair flesh, to be taken in what part of your body pleaseth me…"

He draws the sheet up over me and wraps it tightly around my body in the manner in which the pharaohs of Egypt used to cover their beloved queens, sung and safe for their journey across the great river. I choke on fruitless sobs as he carefully smoothes the creases. He does not look up; his glassy gaze is fixed on the crisp material in front of him, but he is listening. Oh, he is listening. He sits and listens to my weeping as if it were the loveliest music he has ever heard. Through thick tears, I see him begin to shift slightly with the rhythm and his breath comes more quickly. He closes his eyes and throws his head back as if in ecstasy; a deep, guttural groan escapes his lips.

"Please…" I try one last time, "I have so much more, so many more years…"

Torn out of his reverie, he sighs in annoyance. "Oh yes," he drawls disdainfully, "so many years…"

He pauses and a strange look falls over his leonine face; he reaches to caress my cheek almost sweetly. "And what then?" he continues. "You will grow old and die. You will grow old and frail and ugly. Your skin will lose its softness and become grey and wrinkled, your hair will grow thin and cease to shine, your eyes will lose their luster…and I could not bear it." His voice drops to a whisper. "Now you will be young and beautiful always."

"But…" I wheeze. Still dizzy with disbelief, I dare to cling to a tiny shred of hope. He won't, he can't…

"Hush now," comes his careless command as his expression hardens once more. The time for tender thoughts is over.

In a last act of mercy, he takes one white hand and covers my eyes. I feel those rebellious strands of hair that always frame his face brush my cheek as he leans down and presses his icy lips to my forehead. "I thank you, my love, for all that you have so graciously bestowed on me," he says softly. And then I feel his breath on my neck.

I think my heart is going to explode; it beats so frantically that I can almost hear it shout "no, no, no! More time, more time, more time!"

Its swan song is cut short when something sharp and cold drives hard into my throat and my desperate breath is snatched clean away. I feel my skin tear beneath his lips as he sucks greedily. It hurts; oh, it hurts. It never hurt before—not like this—and I scream in agony as a searing hot pain shoots down my entire body. So much pain for such tiny cuts…

Everything begins to grow dark. I am afraid of the dark. And cold, I hate the cold.

I remember sunlight dappled through the leaves in some far-away wood and, somewhere, the sound of a rushing stream. I remember summer breezes on my cheek while I lay in hot grass. The smell of rain-washed sidewalks. I remember the sound of Josephine, our big calico cat, purring and snorting as she slept opposite on my pillow.

I remember my mother tucking me in one night long ago when I was feverish and fretful. I remember her soft, cool hands on my forehead and her lilting soprano. I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair…

Slowly, she starts to fade and I try franticly to pull her back so that I will not be alone in the dark. It's so cold; I'm cold.

I remember when my demon first stripped me to my last nakedness and suddenly, for the first time, I feel shame.

And now I remember nothing.

Well, there you have it...a cautionary tale if ever there was one. As one very funny satire once said about Dracula, we aren't his girlfriends, we are his food. (In case it was too ambiguous, she's not a vampire, she's capital D Dead.) Still, not a bad way to go, if you ask me... ;p

References/influences include: Shakespeare (Othello, The Merchant of Venice), William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying), everything Angela Carter writes (and the film adaptation of The Company of Wolves), William Blake's painting of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, and other shizz.

I hope I have redeemed myself for my long absence. Now, pretty pretty please, do be kind to my first foray back into fiction in a while and REVIEW!! (I will reply to all I swear.) And, of course, Happy New Year everyone!