I walk into the dimly lit room gently closing the door behind me; the flames of the candles and the fireplace casts a warm reflection on the marble floor. Immediately I feel relaxed. As I walk, I notice the candle extinguish behind me. That’s rather curious.
As I get closer to him, I hear a knocking on the door behind me. I stop and look behind me but…there’s no door. Instead there’s an archway to a room I’ve never seen before. A faint glint of silver catches my eye. It’s a frame and the picture is swallowed by the darkness, but I can make out the recognizable red hair of my past — it’s my old portrait. In the corner of the portrait I see a silhouette of…something winged. What is that thing and what is going on? Is…is this another dream?
“Guinevere…” His low and gravelly voice grabs my attention and sends a chill throughout my body, leaving goose bumps.
My attention fully shifts from the archway to the man on the other side of the room. I continue walking to him, eager to see the face I love so much. My heels clack against the marble, echoing off the walls. Then I hear knocking, again! “…aren’t you going to answer it?” He speaks again.
Suddenly, in front of me appears a door. I reach out and open it; there’s nothing but darkness on the other side and even though the door was open, the knocking persists. Everything around me fades to darkness as I start to leave my dream world.
I sit up and look around, my eyes adjust to the darkness before I realize the knocking is someone at my bedroom door. Annoyed and exhausted: That’s how I feel as I leave the warmth of my bed. I grumble as I pull nearby clothes over my bare body, and I curse as the knocking grows more urgent and irritating. “Coming! coming!” I call out through gritted fangs. All I know is whatever it is, it better be worth it.
I look down at my clothes before I leave the bedroom — Not appropriate and not even mine. Great. I feel exposed as I walk to the door to my suite. My newest human waits on the other side of the glass, fear and worry in her eyes. Quickly, I leave the suite, quietly shutting the door behind me. Roxanne greets me with a curtsy. “Yes?” I raise an eyebrow, expecting a good reason for disturbing me. She avoids looking at me.
“Sorry ma’am, I insisted on not waking you, but the man at the door…he said it was urgent.” Man? At the door? At this hour?! And how did he get past the doorman?
“Vampire business? or human business?” After all this time, I thought living in the city with an alias was a better idea, but now I’m starting to question it.
“I…didn’t think to ask. I can go ask and come back.” There was no use in it, I could be wherever the man is in less than a minute.
“No, I’ll go greet our guest. Did you take him to the dining room?” She nods as confirmation. Good. As much as I care for this human, she was a little slow to learn the new protocol. It was times like this when I regret turning Yuki and Sam…they were the best and no one in 32 years has been able to replace them. As soon as I dismissed my human, I walk back into my suite and lock the door to ensure no one uninvited enters. I search around for a robe to slip it over my clothes. I find one kicked under the bed and mist myself down to the first floor.
I steel myself and peek around the corner. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this man wasn’t it.
The man is tall and stands with pride. A human nobleman perhaps? No matter who this man is, he’s here now and inspecting my old portrait. “Hello sir, can I help you?” Politeness is all I can offer…I mean who the hell does he think he is to insist to see me in my home. As he turns to face me, I instantly feel sick…those cheeks, his eyes.
“Hello.” He grins at me with that same goofy grin he had. His thumb jerks over his shoulder to the portrait. “I’m looking for her.” His voice sounds eerily similar to his.
“Mortimer?” My legs feel as if they’re going to give at any moment, so I sit in one of the chairs. He blinks and cocks his head slightly with concern…? His mannerisms are so much like his it hurts my very soul.
“You know me?” I nod. I want to look away, but it’s impossible. How is he here?
“You’re Gunther’s son. Hard to mistake those cheekbones.” I am breathless.
“Are you the queen?” He looks between me and the portrait. Finally, I nod. I’m curious to hear why he’s here, though I have a feeling of dread. “My dad’s will-” Gunther’s will? Oh. That’s why he’s here. I look down at my hands, which are now shaking. “-he wanted me to deliver this book to you.” Mortimer reaches into his coat and pulls out a worn copy of Dracula. “and he said we should get to know one another. Actually he pretty much demanded it in his will.” He lays the book in front of me on the table. My attention snaps from the book to his face. My withered heart pounds in my ears like a drum. Does he know the truth? How could he know is the better question.
“When did he…?” Just thinking of Gunther’s death makes me stop functioning. I guess it’s safe to say, after 33-ish years and all that’s happened, I’m still not over Gunther Goth.
“Last month. I would have dropped by sooner, but I couldn’t get your address from anyone. I went to the castle but everyone said you weren’t available.
Aunt Agnes and Uncle Caleb then told me you left the castle in 2017 and only select people even knew where you were.
If it wasn’t for Uncle Samuel…I never would have found you.” Leave it to Sam to do what he thinks is best for me.
“I’m sorry.” Apologizing is the first thing that comes to mind. “I never thought about what would happen when Gunther…” I still can’t finish the sentence. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. “I never thought we would actually meet.”
“So if I do this…You’ll ensure they don’t remember me? You’ll make them accept him?” Guinevere pleaded with the fairies. Her heart was breaking and she was desperate.
“Yes. Your child will no longer be yours but Cornelia’s.” Loud and choking sobs shook her body. She sat and wrapped her arms around her very pregnant belly. The baby kicked with each sob, causing Guinevere’s grief to deepen.
“Okay.” Was all she could say between sobs.
“I’m not stupid.” He looks to me and sits in the seat next to me. “I know you and dad were lovers.” Oh Mortimer…we were so much more than just lovers. I wish I could tell him, but I don’t speak my thoughts. Instead I watch him. I can see his thoughts forming on his face, in his eyes. It’s then that I notice his eyes aren’t just dark brown like Gunther’s…they’re heterochromatic. “I grew up questioning if Cornelia was really my mother. I knew she couldn’t have children because of her cancer, and there was no bond between us. If there was it was artificial. It wasn’t until after her death that I asked. But dad didn’t tell me, I just thought it was because he was mourning Cornelia. Uncle Samuel was the one who finally told me about you. He didn’t tell me about you and dad though, because he said it wasn’t his story to tell.” There’s so much I want to say, but I can’t find the words. Instead I sit in silence and listen to Mortimer.
“Dad was so unhappy. He physically changed once I started asking questions. He always looked so defeated and hollow, he buried himself with work and whisky. The only time he was alive was when I would mention you. Even then, he was hollow and sad. He said I reminded him of you, which made no sense to me until I reached adulthood.” This could only mean one thing. But I stay silent and wait for the other shoe to drop. “It seems I’ve inherited your vampirism, mum.”
He pulls his sleeve up and looks down at his watch with a frown. “Shit. I need to go. I have to be at the lab in an hour.” Lab? I echo my question out loud.
“Lab? Not office?” He laughs as he stands – the same hearty and joyous laugh as Gunther’s.
“Oh Watcher no. Dad may have thrived in an office setting…but I would be miserable.” I stand and, together, we walk to the front door. “No. I run the science branch of Goth Enterprises. Uncle Samuel runs the business part now that dad’s gone.” I feel a sense of pride knowing Mortimer made his own path. “So…can we get to know each other?” He’s nervous, and so am I. I’m scared that he’ll hate me once he realizes I’m no longer the woman from those stories. But I don’t have the will to deny him.
“Of course. I would love nothing more.”
“Can I hug you?” I feel myself smile and nod without thinking about it. He steps closer and hugs me. My heart is racing. The guilt of leaving him finally caught up with me after 32 years.