- From an unpublished vampire Gothic novel,
this excerpt opens with Devon, one of the Undead, who is eighteen
years old. His father, the Count, takes him to a masquerade ball
of vampires in an old palace in Venice, Italy. There, he meets
a woman vampire in a princess mask and with a seductive body.
Her eyes are wild and inviting. This is from the end of the chapter
when dawn is eminent the the Undead must leave to return to the
darkness. The lady, Zena, asks Devon a most important question.
It takes place in the 16th century.
- Three low chimes sounded. There was but a hushed murmur as
the guests turned to look forlornly at the clock.
- "My s...s... strong young man," Zena hissed. "It
is a warning that dawn is coming. We mus...sst leave now to ensure
time for the trip home."
- Time had passed quickly. Devon wished that they had not arrived
late. He rose from the couch and took her soft hand to help her
up. She squeezed his hand and hugged him briefly. The curves
of her body fit neatly against his muscular frame. She stared
at him intently through the holes in the mask. Those eyes! He
moaned again, feeling a flush of emotion.
- "Will you uh... remove your mask?" he asked weakly.
"I must see your beautiful face before I leave."
- She hesitated, her eyes narrowing even through the slits.
She moved restlessly and bumped one curvy hip playfully against
his. "And will you come and see me Tuesday next when the
moon is full, whether or not I remove the mask?" She twittered
nervously in anticipation of his answer.
- Devon paused. If he were to say yes, he would need to keep
his word especially to one of his own kind. He looked at her,
at the curve of the painted princess smile, and at her wild eyes.
- "It is time to go," she whispered. "Will you
come to visit Zena, mask or no mask?"
- The Count was moving toward them. There was little time to
consider the offer. It was unthinkable to say no. She must be
quite beautiful, he thought. Yet... I may regret my decision.
Why does she ask this of me? He stared hard at her as though
he would see through the princess face. Her hands on her slim
hips, Zena moved restlessly; she sighed seductively.
- "Not much time! Will you do this for Zena?" she
asked in a gravely half whisper, and ran long fingers up his
- "Yes," he whispered breathlessly.
- It took what seemed like a mortal lifetime for her to remove
the mask. His heart sank, and he stared at her true self in disbelief.
Her nos was beak-like. She appeared older than he had imagined
her. A lengthy scar drizzled down one side of her face and her
mouth drooped a bit on the same side. In years past she had perhaps
been a beauty. But her body was young and tempting, her voice
and her touch were seductive. Her eyes were the most startling
he had ever seen. His promise was upsetting, but still...
- "You are sorry now," she said despondently. "Zena
releases you from your promise. She but teased a vulnerable young
- "Hardly," he murmured, surprised by his own reaction
and he pulled her toward him even in view of the Count. "I
cannot wait to see you."
- She reached up to touch his face softly with one shapely
hand. "Tuesday next," she whispered. "The Count
- He watched her depart through the scarlet drapes. He joined
his father who smiled knowingly.
- "So you had a good time after all," he said to
his son. "And you will see the lady Zenobia."
- Devon flushed partially with the embarrassment of youth,
partially with pride at his conquest. He strutted beside his
father toward the scarlet hall. The lady was gone; he searched
the sea of faces heading in the same direction. She was nowhere.
- "She will be good for you. She will teach you many lessons,
- They moved with the others past the flaming braziers and
the sonorous chandelier pieces down the long foyer toward the
main doors. Not a shadow moved along the wall.
- "Are these all our people?" Devon was anxious to
change the subject.
- "Yes. Did you not know it by the clock that runs in
reverse? While mortals foolishly lose hours clockwise, the Undead
gain time in like amounts."
- Outside the air was chill and the mist still hovered over
the city. The sky was full of those who had already taken flight
for the journey home. There was hardly a sound, only the soft
fluttering of wings, as the Undead changed shape and zoomed up
into the haze. Devon soared upward and glanced down through the
vapor at the spires of St. Mark's Cathedral. He could not help
but think that, for Venetians up early that sultry morning, the
departure of the Undead would sound like the divine flapping
of angels' wings.