Chapter 8

The Shape-Shifting Vampire

NOTE: I don't own the rights to Jane Eyre. This is out of love for the novel.

The evening was crisp and cool as Jane and Edward took a carriage into town to see The Marriage of Figaro at the local opera. Since family life was a bit hectic, Edward obtained a pair of tickets and offered his wife a nice romantic night alone to break away from the monotony of everyday life. Dressed in their finest, especially with Edward in a white cravat, white vest, and black frock coat, with one of his black-gloved hands holding one of Jane's white-gloved ones while his other hand gripped the handle of his cane. Jane was attired in a similar formal fashion with a bonnet, coat, and a dress along with an expensive pearl necklace that Edward had bought her for the occasion. The two of them had been looking forward to this night for a few weeks. Despite her expectant condition, Jane decided to go to the opera because she hadn't seen one since Henry had been born. Edward then let go of Jane's hand and draped his arm around her shoulders with a smile on his face.

"Just the two of us," he sighed happily, allowing himself to relax a little in his seat.

"Well deserved too," remarked Jane who planted a kiss on Edward's cheek.

"Nothing but the best for my little elf." He turned around and kissed her. "Sometimes one needs to leave the confines of responsibility for a little bit of pleasure. By the way, how are you feeling my dear?" Every once in awhile, Edward felt compelled to ask his wife about her condition, considering that she was with child.

"I'm feeling rather fine," said Jane. "But I still feel fat." She looked down at her slightly protruding mid-section.

"Don't be, Jane. I could care less if you were; you will always be beautiful to me, regardless of size." He turned around and kissed her again, this time, making her blush. Edward smiled in response. "I love it when your cheeks flush," he chuckled.

"And I'll still love you, too, no matter what," said Jane, putting her head on his shoulder.

"It doesn't get any wonderful than this, Jane. A night at the opera with just the two of us. Henry is with his nanny and since Adele is home from school, she has offered to entertain him while we're away for the evening."

Both husband and wife continued to share sweet-nothings during the carriage ride to the opera. Upon arrival, both Jane and Edward made their way to their seats along with the others in attendance. As the attendees were finding their seats, deep in the back of the building, a squirrel managed to get in. It made its way toward the dressing-rooms of the performers and stopped at a specific room in particular. Here, the squirrel transformed into a vampire, his skin completely pale, his fangs a pale white. The individual in question was impeccably dressed though not well enough to attend an opera. He knocked at the door of the dressing-room, which was answered by the soprano playing the part of Susanna. She stared at the individual and gasped, "Arthur!"

"You have hurt me deeply, Frances," said Arthur.

"I'm terribly sorry, but, but..." Frances muttered. "I cannot give up what I love; the love of music and song."

"I shall give you one final chance to change your mind. Give up this folly of yours and be my wife."

Frances' eyes welled up with tears. "I cannot...give up what I love. I am sorry Arthur. What you want me to do is not out of love but out of selfishness on your part; also my parents would never allow me to marry a vampire. This is why I have never mentioned your name to them."

"Very well then," said Arthur. "You leave me no choice." He grabbed a hold of poor Frances, who immediately started screaming and struggling. Arthur then pulled away her hair, exposing her neck and promptly bit her and then leaving her dead body in the dressing room. He quickly transformed back into a squirrel and scampered back the way he came. Just a few seconds later, one of the stage hands found the body and quickly alerted the musical director.

Meanwhile, Jane and Edward were sitting in one of the box seats; Jane cooling herself with her fan while Edward peered down the levels of seats, his eyes fixed on the stage.

"I wonder what's taking so long for the opera to start," muttered Edward. "I paid a good deal of money for us to see Frances Allred sing the part of Susanna."

"Maybe one of the performers became ill," said Jane.

"Perhaps. I believe they do have understudies for this sort of occasion."

"How did you hear about Frances Allred?"

"She studied under Celine Varens. But you have nothing to worry about, my dear." He patted her hand and then held it with his own. "I have no interest in this young woman other than to hear her sing."

As Jane managed a smile at her husband, a shout came from below. The music director had called the attention of the audience.

"I apologize for the delay but this performance will be cancelled this evening..." Gasps flooded the opera house followed by some audience members putting their hands to their faces in frustration.

"...due to an unforseen death," continued the music director. "...of one Frances Allred."

"The devil?!" muttered Edward angrily. His eyes were wide and his mouth agape with shock. "How can that possibly be?"

The director continued, "Miss Allred was seen dead in her dressing room with fang marks on her neck." A wave of gasps came from the audience and some women even swooned at the mere thought.

"A vampire!" Edward exclaimed. "But how can a vampire get inside without being detected?"

"Your guess is good as mine, dear," said Jane. "Should we see if we can be of assistance?"

"As much as I hate having my time with you interrupted, I believe that in the best interests of the young woman's family, we must do our duty as creature killers." The two absconded from their box seats with Jane being led by the hand by Edward. They quickly made their way up front, through confused opera guests and the orchestra pit and to the musical director.

"Hello sir," said Jane, dropping a curtsey. "We've come to help."

The musical director took one look at the two of them and recognized them immediately. "Ah, I've heard of you. The Creature Killers of Thornfield, Sir Edward and Lady Rochester. My name is Mr. Stephen Stanley. I had the unfortunate task of discovering Miss Allred in her dressing room, apparently deceased by a vampire bite."

"Pleased to meet you Mr. Stanley," said Jane as they both shook his hand. "We'll definitely see to it that we find this woman's killer and make sure that he is brought to justice."

"Lead justice, more or less," whispered Edward to Jane.

"Wooden stake or silver bullet justice is more like it," Jane whispered back.

The Creature Killers of Thornfield then gave the local undertaker strict instructions on how to keep Miss Allred's body deceased in the case she should come back to life as a vampire herself, telling him to use a wooden stake to the heart to insure that the victim was properly dead. Then the two ventured outside a back door into the vast darkness of night with only a lantern held by Edward as the sole source of light. He waved it around a nearby tree and nearly stumbled on a small squirrel.

"Move along, you puny beast," he muttered to the squirrel. The squirrel did as told and scampered off into some nearby bushes. While Jane and Edward stumbled about in the darkness, looking for any clues or signs of vampire life, the squirrel peered through the leaves of the bush, his gaze fixated on the creature killers, especially Jane.

The Creature Killers of Thornfield could not find any trace of vampire or otherwise so they left the opera in a state of shock and confusion. After Edward lamented that yet another romantic activity between him and Jane was interrupted (and after Jane sternly reminded him that a senseless murder was more important than a romantic evening together), the two of them discussed how the alleged vampire got in and out without notice, which proved to be fruitless since they couldn't come up with an explanation other than someone coming in silently and stabbing poor Frances in the neck with a prong-like tool that could possibly resemble a vampire bite (even that didn't explain how pale she looked after losing a great deal of blood). They also commented on the fact that they didn't know if the young singer had any enemies or those who wished to do her harm. After much discussion and thought, the two of them decided to wait until morning to further talk about the case.

The next morning, they headed out to the local police headquarters, hoping that there would be contacts for them to further learn about this young woman. As their carriage made their way down the road, the same squirrel that Edward had nearly tripped over the night before, crawled onto a branch of a nearby tree, his eyes fixated on them, even more so on Jane. He then scurried down the trunk of the tree and into some nearby bushes. As they approached the police station, he then dashed into more bushes and into a small hole in a building, unknown to Jane and Edward. Upon their arrival to the station, the creature killers found the distraught parents of Frances Allred along with her older twin siblings, her brother Frank and her sister Rebecca, their eyes red with tears and weeping. Mr. and Mrs. Allred were both five and forty years of age with their twins being three and twenty and Frances being nineteen. Her family was all dressed in black, indicating a period of mourning.

"I can't understand who would murder such an innocent girl," muttered Mrs. Allred. "My Franny has never wished ill will toward anyone. She will never sing again!" She sobbed into a handkerchief and blew her nose so loudly that it sounded like a horn, which Edward found to be mildly entertaining and had to bite his lips to keep from chuckling.

"She was allegedly killed by a vampire, my dear," Mr. Allred said. "Those creatures are horrible beings!" He put his arm around his wife who continued to sob uncontrollably on his shoulder.

"Franny was such a nice girl," said her sister Rebecca, wiping away her tears. "She never said a horrible thing about anyone. Her dream was to sing at the Royal Opera House and now she never will!" She sniffed and continued to wipe her eyes.

"If I find out who killed my sister, I will find out where he lives and make absolutely sure he doesn't kill anyone again!" said her brother Frank.

"At least we know it wasn't them who killed her," Edward whispered to Jane. "They look entirely too distraught."

After the family members regained their composure, Jane and Edward questioned them about Frances Allred. They asked if they had seen her in her dressing room before the opera and they all replied "no" since they were all sitting in the box seats at the time of the murder. After further questioning, Jane and Edward found that Frances came off as an agreeable, friendly person who wouldn't even harm a small insect. They said that Frances had told them briefly about a friend of hers named Arthur Gibbon but never brought up his name again. Jane and Edward thought it would be best to find Mr. Gibbon and inform him of his friend's untimely death and ask him if he knew anyone who might wish to cause her harm. While the two creature killers were questioning, the squirrel managed to climb up the small brick wall and peer into the window of the police station, listening rather intently. He then fled quickly as the door to the station opened and Jane and Edward were set out to Arthur Gibbon's home.

"This is one thing I don't particularly enjoy doing," said Edward on their way to Mr. Gibbon's residence.

"Of course not," Jane said. "How would anyone find joy in telling someone that their friend or loved one has been murdered?"

"I know, it's just that I feel that this responsibility lies on the part of the authorities, however, now that we're more well-known, they simply hand over creature-murder cases to us."

"That's because we know more about these creatures than they do."

"That's true Jane. Besides, they pay better than the average farmer with a zombie locked in his barn."

They arrived at Arthur Gibbons' home; it was a modest residence but still had the grandeur of Thornfield. They knocked on the door and one of his servants answered, telling them that he was not home and had left for town on important business, presumably to deal with the death of his friend Frances Allred. They asked the servant about the relationship between the two, however, he refused to comment. Edward then grabbed the servant by his collar and thrust him into a nearby wall, all while Jane yelling at him to stop, and repeated the question through gritted teeth. The now-frightened servant revealed that Arthur and Frances were lovers at one point but Frances had broken off their romance to pursue her career as an opera singer and had the two of them married, Frances would no longer be allowed to perform. Edward had heard enough and let him go.

"Please don't tell anyone where you received this information," said the servant in a scared tone of voice, massaging his neck where Edward had grabbed him. "My master would have my head for it!"

"Rest assured, this conversation never happened, sir," said Jane. "My apologies for my husband's behavior."

"Apologies accepted." Jane shook the man's hand as she and Edward headed for their carriage ride home, hopefully to figure out who or what murdered Frances Allred and find an explanation for Arthur's suspicious behavior. As they got in, Edward offered to put his arm around her but she refused.

"How dare you do that to him!" she scolded Edward. "I thought we had this conversation before that you would never lay as much as a FINGER on people that we talk to!"

"I couldn't help it, Jane," said Edward, his head now facing downward. "I was frustrated at the lack of his cooperation. After all, he could've been the one to kill Frances."

"Him? A servant? Why, Edward, WHY would a servant, of all people, want to kill his employer's former lover?" She shook her head in disgust.

Edward muttered a guilty apology and sighed and put his hands in his lap. He didn't bother to speak to his wife who was still seething over his methods of questioning. They said nothing to each other on the carriage ride home. On the back of the carriage holding on for dear life was the squirrel. As soon as the carriage stopped, the squirrel got off and watched as the creature killers entered their home with Mrs. Fairfax asking how it went and getting a mouthful of frustration from Jane at what Edward did to Mr. Gibbons' servant. Meanwhile, Edward shouted at Jane to drop the subject and leave him be. In anger, Jane retreated to her drawing room to calm down. The squirrel climbed onto the window to get a better look at their home. And then he waited. And waited. And waited. And finally, when supper time came around, Edward told Mrs. Fairfax to inform his wife that dinner was about to be served. Then, Mrs. Fairfax replied that Jane would come to dinner when her appetite suited it. Edward rolled his eyes and entered the dining room. The squirrel then entered the home through a slightly open window and snuck his way around the furniture until he came to the drawing room, which to his delight, was slightly ajar. He snuck inside to find Jane in prayer, talking to God about her husband and herself and praying to let her anger subside. The squirrel then made his appearance.

"My goodness!" exclaimed Jane. "How did you get in here? Let me find a way to let you out." She picked him up gingerly by the scruff of his neck and then he made his transformation from squirrel to vampire. He then shut the door to the drawing room.

"What? Who are you?" Jane asked.

"Mrs. Jane Rochester," he said. "May I introduce myself as Arthur Gibbon?"

"Arthur Gibbon? How do you know who I am or where I reside?"

"Pure observation, my dear. I saw you and your temperamental husband looking around for Frances Allred's murderer."

"How did you turn into a squirrel?"

"Simple. I was bitten by a squirrel on a picnic who had previously been bitten by a vampire. It's quite an interesting life so far. You get to see things that you normally wouldn't as a human." He smiled at her and licked his fangs. "On a different subject entirely, your dear husband was not so dear to my servant." He moved in closer to her as she backed up into her chair. "I do not appreciate those who mistreat the people who are in my employ."

"That was the first time I've ever seen him do such a thing!" exclaimed Jane. "He was feeling frustrated at the time. If this is the reason for your visit, he would be more than happy to apologize!"

Arthur stood back and smiled again. "I accept your gracious apologies. However, this is not the reason for my visit." He grabbed Jane and pulled her toward him as she struggled to be free. "I can't have you and your husband following me."

"Do you have something to hide, Arthur?" Jane asked through gritted teeth as she tried to break free of his grasp.

"Of course, my dear." He pulled her even closer and whispered, "I killed Frances."

"You vile creature! How could you?"

"I had to, my dear. She would not accept me as a husband and refuses to give up this opera-singing career. It's very low brow, in my opinion. But now that she's gone, I have you."

"You better not! I'm a happily married woman!"

"Funny, you didn't sound so happily married a while ago when you argued with your husband over his mistreatment of my employee."

"It was a disagreement! Husbands and wives have them all the time! Now let me go!"

"I would be happy to let you go. On the condition that you leave your husband and join me."


"Very well then." He turned her around and, despite Jane's struggling, pulled her close to him and moved the hair covering her neck. He licked his fangs and opened his mouth. Just as he was about to bite Jane's neck, Arthur felt something on the back of his own neck, which made a clicking sound.

"Don't you dare," Edward's booming voice permeated Arthur's ears as he pressed his pistol to the back of the vampire's neck. "I heard everything you just told my wife. Unhand her this instant!" he snapped through gritted teeth.

Arthur turned around to face an extremely angry Edward, his pistol still pointed in his direction. "So you're the one who pinned my servant against the wall to extract information?" He dropped Jane to the ground and faced Edward. "How do you think that makes him feel?"

"A lot better than you are now, Arthur Gibbon!" Edward's gaze and gun were still fixed onto Arthur's. "How dare you murder an innocent girl and then have the gall to seduce my wife in my house of all places!"

"What kind of person do you think you are, assaulting innocent people and..." There was a gunshot and Arthur, grabbing his mid-section, fell forward. Jane had a hidden gun in the desk in her drawing room and promptly shot the vampire in the back. She dropped the gun and ran to her husband, throwing her arms around his neck. In return, Edward wrapped his arms around Jane, stroking her back.

"I'm so sorry," said Jane, still shaking from fear.

"No need to be," Edward said. "You did nothing wrong; I shouldn't have done what I did to that man's servant. However, considering that he killed Miss Allred, I think that's the least of my worries."

"Thank you, Edward for saving me. I love you so much." She kissed him and he returned her affections.

"I will always love you, my little elf," he said to her. "Now we must dispose of the vampire before we have supper." He and Jane enlisted one of stable men as they carried Arthur's body to the basement while Mrs. Fairfax sent another one to alert the authorities. When they did arrive, Jane and Edward explained everything; the relationship between Frances and Arthur and how it fell apart and how Frances could only refer to him as a friend to her family and not her lover. After Arthur's body was properly disposed of (making sure he did not come back from the dead to kill others), Jane and Edward elected to eat their late dinner near their fireplace, sitting side by side on the sofa. After they finished, Jane curled next to Edward, her head on his shoulder and her arm around his. Edward responded by placing his hand on her knee.

"I let the servants know to leave us alone for the moment," Edward said. "Are you feeling all right?"

"I'm feeling fine, thank you for asking, Edward," Jane replied. "Ooh, I feel something." She put a hand to her stomach.

"What is it?" asked Edward.

Jane took her husband's hand and placed it on her mid-section. "Feel it?"

"The baby just kicked," said Edward.

"Sometimes it keeps me up at night."

"I remember you used to tell me that when you were pregnant with Henry. Being a man, I'll never know how that feels." The two of them chuckled and Edward kissed her cheek. "Oh Jane," he sighed. "I love you and I always will. Don't you ever forget that, my little elf." He lifted her chin with his finger and kissed her. Then he pulled her close to him, his arm wrapped firmly around his wife.

"I love you too, Edward. I love you and I always will." She turned around and kissed him back. Edward then turned to face her with a smile on his face.

"Oh speak again, bright angel," he said. "For thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head as is a winged messenger of Heaven."*

Jane feigned shock with a smile on her face, giggled and said, "What man art thou that thus bescreen'd in the night so stumblest upon my counsel?"*

The two embraced and kissed with such passion and force that they fell off of the sofa, knocking over a small table and a vase that broke immediately upon impact. Edward immediately let go of his wife and helped her to her feet.

"Are you all right, darling?" he asked.

"I'm fine, Edward. No harm done but I can't say the same for the vase on that table."

"Don't worry, Jane. I never liked it to begin with. Besides, I'm more impressed with you knowing Shakespeare."

"Oh, I love Romeo and Juliet! It's such a fantastic play," said Jane.

"Fantastic until the end, I suppose. I'll have Mrs. Fairfax come in and clean up this mess. Let's go to bed, shall we? It's getting late." They held hands and went upstairs to bed.

With the reward money for the capture and death of Arthur Gibbon, Jane and Edward helped to pay for the funeral expenses for the Allreds. While Mr. Gibbon's servants sought work elsewhere, Edward offered employment to Mr. Roger Stephens, the servant he accosted earlier (with twice the pay). Mr. Stephens eagerly accepted the offer as well as Edward's apology since Thornfield was closer to the home of his daughter and son-in-law (this allowed him to see his grandchildren more often).


*Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene II by William Shakespeare.