He wasn't sure when it first began, this strange feeling of his. The one that had insidiously crept through his veins so that every time he saw her was a new thrill to be savoured like the finest bottle of the Baroness of Bucharest.

Perhaps it was when she had turned up for her interview, all bright and keen and intelligent:

"Next!" he called imperiously through the door. It had been ten, whole minutes since the last candidate had left his office, so he supposed it was probably time to let the next one in.

He slipped his copy of 'The Vampire Times' into one of his desk drawers-he was getting good at this undercover thing! Avoiding peasant mobs was getting easier and easier all the time…

The door creaked open and the faintest whiff of some feminine parfum curled through the air to his keen nose. He couldn't help salivating, especially when the candidate for the post of Head Teacher waltzed through the door and he saw that she was rather…'easy on the eye' was an appropriate expression, wasn't it?...Her chestnut curls were pulled into a pony-tail, so that a couple of loose tendrils brushed her shoulders. She wasn't like the other candidates, boring, drab, wearing those ghastly peasant suits; she wore a floral, violet blouse-not unlike one of the ones that Elizabeth Brannaugh wore, back in Stokely, but infinitely more tasteful…'tasty' couldn't possibly be the right word, but it was the first thought that popped into his head.

"Mr Count." The woman said primly, looking him in the eye while Renfield-like the squeaky-clean, efficient, tottering imbecile that he'd become-quietly closed the door.

"Please," The Count murmured politely, "Sit." He gestured to the padded chair in front of his antique, mahogany desk. It was a tiny chair, to tell the truth, and in fact, the Count rather liked it that way. He wanted to dominate the room, to intimidate the poor fools who wound up in that chair. The dimness of the room contributed to that atmosphere, somewhat; it made the room seem stifling. It made its chief occupant seem cold, cruel and deadly. More than one of the previous interviewees had shrunk into themselves and didn't say anything at all. The others, unfortunately, hadn't kept their stupid, breather mouths shut.


"McCauley." She smiled. It was a genuine, though understated, smile that shone and made her features even more appealing than they were already. "Alex McCauley."

"Ah…Yes." He murmured softly, immediately taking up papers on his desk that seemed to suddenly need shuffling. He hadn't looked at the papers all day…CVs…various applications…he found it, suddenly: Miss Alexandra McCauley's CV…

It was full of generally uninteresting twaddle, but he felt like taking a peek…She'd worked as Head Teacher at three schools, previously, turning them from total dumps into shining academies of academic excellence. Ah, well…you couldn't have everything…

"You seem to have been exceptionally successful at these other establishments," he deliberately rolled the word off his tongue, thinking that she would be enthralled by the sensuality of his voice. "Why is it that you wish to come here?"

"I would like to work with a blank slate; it's a rare opportunity, I feel. Besides the fact that I've never worked in a private institution and would like to see how it compares with the state system." She answered promptly and precisely, without even a pause for breath. He was mildly impressed with her-the words she spoke meant next to nothing to him, but it was simply the air she had; quiet, yet dignified. Funny, considering that her heart-rate had quickened just a touch.

"I see." He murmured. He'd already decided that this Miss McCauley was going to get the job; she was a female, and attracted to him; it wouldn't be difficult at all to manipulate her into doing what he wanted, when he wanted…Maybe-no-maybe not that! Or maybe? He'd have to be patient, he knew. Despite the fact that he was blatantly irresistible-his cheekbones for crying out loud!-he did know that she wouldn't simply drop into his lap like a prize plum.

"Well." He grinned, "That'll be all, thank you."

"I'm sorry!" Miss McCauley exclaimed, astonished that her interviewer didn't want to ask any more questions. It had taken her longer than this to buy her lunch! But then, Mr Count did seem a mite eccentric…even so, she was sure that he ought to be taking interviewing more seriously, even if he didn't intend to employ her.

"You have the job." He said smartly, standing up and walking her to the door.

"Oh." What could she say to that? She was happy, doubtless, but it was still strange to have, literally, a thirty-second interview and still get the job. "Thank you, Mr Count."

"It was my pleasure, Miss McCauley!" He beamed, knowing that, fairly soon, she would be working under this very roof and he'd have all the time in the world to play games with her. He opened the door and she walked out.



"Get rid of the others." He said shortly.

"Yes, sir." Renfield replied discreetly.