Look! I have a new project! I'll be working on Cupcakes from time to time, but this is my current obsession. Victoria is often viewed as a cold hearted killer, but she wasn't always a vampire. She was human once, and somehow, her life shaped her unlife. That was something I wanted to explore. Come, follow Victoria through her childhood, her death, her second life, her loves, and ultimately, her second death.
They say you can only ever love once. I've always wondered if that was true.
Chapter One: Charles
I ignored the voice and continued to run up the stone stairs. I could feel my heart racing in my chest and my lungs started to burn. I had started running when I first walked into the building. My shoes had been lost near the stream – I would have to invent a story about them later. I had more important things to attend to, right now. Like Nana.
The voice was louder and closer this time, spurring me to run faster. The bottoms of my feet were sore from pounding up the stone stairs, but I did not slow the least bit, lest I get paddled.
Skidding to a stop, I bolted into my room and shut the door behind me. My eyes scanned the room quickly. I had perhaps about four minutes to destroy the evidence of my transgression and come up with a plausible explanation. Easy.
Without missing a beat, I popped away from the door and peeled off my dress. I winced as I heard the stays in the back pop, and it gave me a bit more trouble than I had planned when the stays hooked with my coiffure. I cursed in an extraordinarily unladylike fashion as several chunks of crazy-curled red hair pulled free from where it had been tightly pinned on my head.
I wadded up the gown in my arms and started to unfasten my petticoats. Before I could get the second one off, however, there was a knock on the door. Ninety seconds early. This required improvisation.
"Victoria, what the devil did ye get yehself into this time, little Miss?"
I tried not to roll my eyes as Nana opened the door without even waiting for me to let her inside. I tried to hide my wadded up dress under the bed, gently nudging it back behind the dust ruffle discreetly with my heel.
"Hi, Nana," I stalled for time. I really had been counting on those last ninety seconds.
"Miss, what have ye gotten into?"
I bit my bottom lip and pouted gently as she looked over me. Nana was a big woman – I was not, by any means, afraid of her, but she did have an intimidating appearance. I had decided when I realized what it was, that when I grew into a lady, I wanted to be intimidating, too.
She was very tall, even a bit taller than Mother. Unlike my mother, though, Nana was sturdily built, with large, muscles arms and a plump midsection. Mother was tall, graceful and slender, but she was meek. Even I could see her weakness to other people. I'd decided I wanted to be the best of both my matronly mentors; tall, slender, graceful, but not at all meek. They were not mutually exclusive.
Barely coming up to Nana's waist, I was hardly intimidating. And my short, pudgy fingers and skinny, stick-like legs were definitely not the epitome of ladylike grace. I still had a lot of ground to cover, but at least I could keep Nana from bullying me around.
"The Grovers' dog got loose again. I was trying to save Mother's flowers," I said softly, looking extra miserable for added effect. "But then the dog decided he wanted to play with me instead, and, I'm so sorry! But Nana, he was just so much fun! But he had been digging, so he was all dirty and when he
jumped onto me, I got dirty too." I sniffled, letting a few tears run down my cheeks. "Please don't paddle me," I whined softly.
"Oh baby girl," Nana's hard exterior melted, and she reached down and gave me a hug. "Let's just get ye cleaned up before yer Mama comes home," she said. I tried not to smile, hiding my victory.
"Won't Mother be angry?" I asked in a breathy whisper. It sounded very convincing, even to my own ears.
"Baby, she will understand. Ye are only twelve, after all."
Buried in the folds of her apron as she patted out my tangled hair, I grinned triumphantly. I had won, again. And it had only taken a moderate amount of improvisation. When Nana pulled me away from her, however, my face had returned to a relief, still-slightly-petrified, innocent look. My heart was still thudding; I had one more lie to twist out of.
"I'll go start ye a bath, and then we'll get ye out of those dirty clothes," she said. I exhaled quickly in relief; she had just made my last trial so much easier. Nana, mistaking the reason for my relief, just smiled reassuringly. "Mother won't be angry, den' worry."
I bit back my smile as Nana turned away and walked into the bathroom. As soon as the door closed to keep the steam in as the hot water was drawn, I turned to my wadded-up dress under the bed.
Sparing the once-beautiful garment little mercy, I opened up the wad of fabric and pulled out my drawstring bag. I kicked the dress out of the way and glanced around my room quickly. I couldn't throw the bag into the dresser – Nana would look there for new garments, and it would soil the clean ones already in there.
I moved quickly, and opened one of the two French windows in my room and dropped the bag on the ledge outside. I shut the window just as I heard the door to the bathing room shut. I wheeled around and put my back to the window, eyeing Nana warily.
"Alright there, Miss? What are ye up to?"
"Just trying to air out the bedroom a bit… I'm afraid I made it smell bad," I said.
"Oh dear, den' worry about that. Come on, now, let's get you into your bath before the water gets cold and we have to draw yeh some more. Off with the petticoat now," she said before reaching toward me and peeling the layers of undergarments off of my body.
Several minutes later, I found myself left to my own devices, lounging in the tub of scented bath water. I smiled; Nana had left me alone after making sure I was clean. I was certain now that my mud-stained clothing had been taken care of. Mother would never know.
I sighed and leaned back against the tub. Once again, I had managed to keep out of trouble. I had to smile – I was very good. Both Nana and Mother would have probably paddled me if they knew I had been down near the stream and up in the trees.
My loot – some pretty riverstones, an arrowhead, a bit of broken glass that had been in the river for a long time – sat in the bag outside my window waiting for me.
It was not the red glass or my dirty dress or dangerous behavior that would upset Mother and Nana, it was the fact that I had been with Charles the entire time without a chaperone. Charles was a boy from the village. He had not been born into the aristocracy like I had, and Mother would have a fit if she knew I associated not only with the commoner, but alone. I could almost picture the lecture she would give about my reputation.
I had little interest in rules or in doing what looked proper – I did what I wanted to do, and ninety-nine percent of the time, I got away with it.
"Look! I found an arrowhead!" Charles shouted excitedly while standing in the water, his britches hiked up to keep them dry. I glanced up from where I was standing on the bank, reaching for smooth, shiny rocks to add to my collection of riverstones.
I could not help but smile in response to his boyish grin – the smallest things pleased him, and I found that quality refreshing. Though he was not a gentleman by title, he certainly was by nature. Extending his hand out, he helped me across the river.
"Find any of the rocks you like, Miss Victoria?" He asked, his eyes sparkling with the excitement of our treasure-hunting. In response to his question, I held out my hands to display the three rounded stones I had found already.
"Yes, look," I replied.
With a professional interest, he looked over the stones with scrutiny, examining the smooth edge. One was a simple grey stone with some glittering substance inside it. Another was a pinkish hue and vaguely resembled a heart. The third was a beautiful sea-blue color, also with flecks of the reflective substance.
He 'Hmm'ed thoughtfully and picked up the blue one to look at it more closely.
"This one is incredible, I have never seen one quite like it before, Miss Victoria," he breathed in admiration. "You have got a great eye."
"You can have it, if you wish," I offered almost shyly. Would he say no? Would he think it was silly? It was hard to tell with Charles, but if he thought me foolish, he gave no indication of it. Instead, his cheekbones raised, his eyebrows shot up and his eyes widened in disbelief.
"You mean it, really?" His voice was laced with equal excitement, as if he had just received a gift on Christmas.
"Of course," I answered with more confidence than I had asked the question with. "On one condition," I added mischievously.
"Which is…?" Charles' voice was wary, and I couldn't help but smile.
"Call me Victoria, not Miss Victoria, please. We're friends, right?"
Charles' grin widened a bit.
"Sure, I can do that, Victoria."
"Great. Let's see what else is here," I said, as I slipped my two remaining stones into my small bag I always brought with me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Charles slip the stone and the arrowhead he found into his pocket.
I glanced back down to the water, looking to see if anything caught my eye.
"Look, Charles! I found an arrowhead, too!" I lifted the small triangular stone out of the water triumphantly.
I smiled as he congratulated my find, and I put the arrowhead with my other stones.
We wandered through the water like that for quite a while. Charles was easy to be around. He did not ask the awkward questions, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy my company. He was sweet, and most importantly, he was one of the most honest people I knew.
Thought I could lie well to anyone I wanted to, I never felt the need to lie to Charles. He always understood everything I said, and accepted it as it was, never making a big deal out of unimportant things, and being concerned when larger things occurred.
"Victoria, oh wow, look at this!" Charles brandished something bright red. As he lifted it into the air, it caught the sunlight and scattered red light all over the stream.
"What is it?" I asked, hiking up my skirts a little bit and splashing through the water over to where he was standing.
"I think it is a piece of glass, but it must have been here a while. Look how smooth the edges are. And wow, look, it matches your hair perfectly." He held the glass up to the side of my face. It really was a beautiful piece of glass. I would have never thought that I would never thought that I'd find garbage so beautiful.
"Wow, it really is pretty, Charles," I murmured as he placed it in my palm for me to look at.
"Do you like it?"
"Of course I do. I like the smooth sides of it and the color is lovely," I answered honestly. I didn't notice the silence that followed the question, and when I glanced up at him, his eyes had a rather strange light in them.
"Would you like to have it?" His voice was oddly soft, but I didn't inquire to the tone. I tore my gaze away from his and looked down to the flame-colored glass in my hand and turned it over once.
"I would love to have it," I murmured.
"Then it's yours."
"Truly?" I glanced to him quickly for an affirmation.
"Yes," he replied slowly, and I waited for him to continue. "On one condition, Victoria." My tone had been light and playful, and his had turned serious. That strange light was still in his eyes, and I felt my heart skip a beat.
"What is it?" The question slipped out as a whisper.
"Will you allow me to give you a kiss? On the cheek, of course."
I stared at Charles for a moment, and I felt a blush the color of the glass in my hand color my face. After a moment of silence, I nodded.
"Yes, I would permit that."
Carefully, Charles leaned toward me and pressed his lips to my cheek.
I grinned, opening my eyes. Charles and I had been treasure-hunting together since I had first been able to sneak away from the watchful eyes of my keepers and go out on my own. I had met him for the first time near the big Oak tree. I had tried to climb it, and slipped. Charles had caught me. He was three years my senior, but age mattered little when you could share everything.
I promised myself that someday, I was going to marry that boy. I did not care what Mother or Nana would think of the idea. I knew what they would think already, and if they had any influence in my decision they would do everything in their power to stop it from happening. I sighed.
The bathwater was starting to cool, and I heaved myself out of the tub. I reached for the towel nearby and wrapped myself in it, stepping back into my bedroom. Sure enough, my dirty clothes were gone. After checking that the door was closed and bolted, I went to the window and pushed it open. Reaching around, I grabbed my forbidden treasure.
I shut the window, and after walking back to the bed, I turned the bag upside down. Five stones, an arrowhead, and the red piece of glass fell out. Seeing the glass, and remembering what I had traded to keep it, brought a blush back to my cheeks.
I felt a bit foolish, but I picked up the piece of glass and ran my fingers over the smoothness of it. The silky feeling of the glass was very calming. Without pausing to think about what I was doing, I lifted the glass above me so I could look through it at the window. The room looked red.
I pressed the glass to my lips and kissed it lightly. A flood of crimson washed through my cheeks and warmed my entire body, making even my toes tingle. I suddenly could not wait to see Charles again.
I set the glass down and scooped everything else back into the bag. After getting to my knees, I lifted up the loose floorboard near the foot of the bed and took out the box I had hidden there. Opening the lid, many riverstones stared up at me. There were a couple other arrowheads, and some folded pieces of parchments. Not only was I meeting with Charles, but I was teaching him his letters. Charles had never learned to write, and he was probably going to go into metal working like his father, and never get the chance to learn. I, on the other hand, had weekly lessons. I saved my work, and whenever we met tri-weekly for our treasure-hunting, I would take it and teach him what I had learned.t
I dumped the contents of the bag into the box and set the box back inside the floor, hiding my transgressions. I kept the red glass out and set my empty bag on the dresser.
After tossing my towel onto the floor, I crawled into my bed clothes. The sun was starting to set, and I could probably convince Nana that I still felt guilty about rescuing some flower patch from a fictional terror and getting my dress dirty, and she would bring my dinner in my bed.
I paused in front of the large, oval arch mirror, and fluffed out my brilliant red hair. I smiled as the crazy curls framed my face. Not only was the brilliant red color out of fashion these days, but the proper style was to keep the hair sleek, smooth, and pinned back impeccably.
Though I desired to be lady-like like my mother, I never wanted her smooth, slick ebony hair. She was always trying to force my hair to be straight, from hot irons to goats' milk, nothing ever seemed to work. I had the sneaking suspicion that somehow, mother took some devious joy from yanking away at my curls. Why she hated my hair so, I had no idea. If I had my way, I would wear it down all the time.
I shook my head again, letting the shoulder-length curls bounce around madly, as if rejoicing in their temporary freedom. They would be permitted to cascade over my pillow tonight, but tomorrow morning, Nana would be trying to pin them up again.
Drawing my night shift around me, I walked toward the bed and crawled beneath the layers of blankets and warmth. The pillow conformed to the shape of my head as the bed accepted my weight graciously.
I hadn't realized how tired I had been after romping through the woods with Charles today until I had crawled into bed. Remembering Charles reminded me of my treasure in my hand. I moved my closed left fist in front of my face, and slowly opened my fingers. There was the piece of red glass.
I could not help but smile. I rolled over onto my side and slipped the glass beneath my pillow. Once sure that it was safe, sleep came easily to me that evening, quickly overpowering my conscious body and taking me – not unwillingly – into its depths.
Hey! Look! You read through the first chapter all the way! Since you read it, please, please take a moment to leave me a review. I'm not in the habit of begging for them, but they're so useful to me. I've never really written anything quite like this, so I'd love feedback. Did you hate it? Tell me! Love it? Let me know! Thanks so much!