THE FOURTH BRIDE By Carole Gill The fourth book in the Blackstone Vampires Series PUBLISHED BY CREATIVIA Copyright 2013 Carole Gill http://carolegillauthor.blogspot.co.uk/ This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the authorâ€™s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. License Notes This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author's work
PART ONE ROSE CHAPTER 1 Dia was indeed cursed and Dracula had done it. It’s rare that a dying mother would give her daughter to one such as I—a vampire—but truly she had no choice. She was surrounded by vampires and demons.
“Take care of her please,” she said. “He has bewitched my child. He has whispered death and abomination into her ears…my own babe!” I promised I would; how could I not for the mother died in order that the evil vampires could feed! We have endured much, my children and I, undead creatures that we are. And my husband, too, Louis—son of a fallen angel and himself a vampire. Though demonic creatures, we seek to do less evil than ourselves. Louis taught me that; Louis who raised me when I perished saving the children. “Drink,” I told them. “It is the only gift I can give you.” I gave them my living life in order for them
to retain their undead ones. The choice was easy. The aftermath I faced was difficult. We went on to exist then as best we could. And truly we lived happily and at peace for three years before Louis received a letter from his old friend and coven master in America begging for help. There were vampire destroyers closing in. Louis left at once. I felt my heart go with him. We wrote for months and then a letter came with passage money. I was tricked into booking passage on a ship bound for America, a ship that was seized by Eco and his crew of vampires. Eco, the dark mirror image of Louis, also born of a fallen angel and human woman, forced this upon us, monster that he is. My children and I were held captive by him. And what was the fate of the ship’s captain and his passengers? They became the vampires’ food store! In the face of all this horror I was urged to read Eco’s unholy testament, a document he had written in order to confess all of his sins committed in the course of his eternal existence.
He had written it because he loved me, he said. He told me it was the only noble thing he had ever done. I had no choice but to read it; that was made clear. I did read it under threat, for Eco’s demonic friends held my children. “Now you have something to think about. Best start reading, Rose. You’ll do a fine job. You can concentrate better now, without the distraction of the children.” I had no choice. When I had finished reading the journal, my children were returned to me. But what I came to believe about Louis being held aboard ship was just another of Eco’s cruel tricks. I realized this when the ship at last came ashore. That was when I saw the point to Eco’s carefully orchestrated ruse. I was to attend the trial of my husband! Satan was judge and Eco held the role of prosecuting counsel. The jury comprised a selection of Eco’s friends: demons and vampires all.
Louis was charged with being a fraud and deserting his brethren on the dark side. Had he been convicted, I and our two children, Simon and Ada, would have been destroyed. But Count Dracula spoke up for us. And because he was friend to Satan and Eco both, the case was dismissed. I felt relieved, but wondered for how long. The last I saw of Dracula, he was with Satan. Louis said we would face more evil and as he said it, in the same moment, I saw Dia—the new addition to our family, bequeathed to me by a woman who’d died on the ship at the hands of Eco’s cohorts—reach out toward Dracula. I saw the expression in her eyes and Hell’s strange light burning there. I knew she would have to be saved. But first, she would have to be blessed. Louis said a priest would bless her for she had done nothing wrong; she did, after all, still have her soul. I could not take her to the church, nor I thought should Louis. We are unclean, undead things—how do we dare approach a church? We
only went in sight of one and waited. Eventually, someone saw us and a face appeared at the door. A priest motioned us inside. It wasn’t until we were in his hall that he gasped. “Be gone, evil things!” “We are what we are, but the child has done nothing wrong!” Louis pleaded. The priest glanced at Ada and Simon. “No! The little one!” I held Dia up so that he could see her. He looked carefully at her. But his face was not kind, nor was his manner. “Why do you bring her here?” Louis spoke. “We would like her to be blessed...” The priest looked hard into our faces. “Why?” “Her mother gave her into my care and died,” I explained in as steady a voice as I could. “But before she did she told me the child had been cursed. Can you do anything?” He stared so intently at me, I blanched. “I can try,” he finally said. “God’s power is infinite... Give her to me and I will take her inside. Wait
here.” We did wait, for we could not enter a holy place. I heard Dia scream and cry. After a while, the priest returned. “I have blessed her. I have done as much as I could.” He nodded sadly. “I think there is something there within her you must watch. Be ever vigilant, for I am certain the child’s mother was correct. She has indeed been touched by evil.” Louis’ friends were waiting for us: Jean, Eliza and her son, the only survivors of Louis’ old coven. Jean had defended Louis in the makeshift court. “Come and be with friends,” they urged. “For it is comfort and nurturing which you need now. I looked at Louis and the children and agreed. It was best not to be on our own, not yet. And so we went from that place, bound for New York State and a farm Jean had owned. And though we were content there and far from danger, it was a difficult time. For as much as I was pleased to be with others of my kind, I was
worried about Dia. There wasn’t a moment of any day that I didn’t watch her and fear for the future. We remained with our friends for five years until finally Louis suggested we return to England. “I was thinking about living in London. Would you like that, Rose?” That surprised me for I hadn’t thought of London for so long. “Yes, Louis. That would be good.” Ada and Simon were pleased for they loved London as it had been their home for centuries. They were so good and loving to Dia except she could turn from pleasant to strange in a moment. Simon thought, whatever it was, she would grow out of it. “After all,” he said. “She is living and can change.” I cried when he said that. It was such a sad thing to say for this undead child who would never grow up. Ada wept too but then she always does when I cry. As for Dia, she just watched me, her little hand reaching out toward my face to wipe my
tears. “No cry,” she said. I hugged her. Maybe she would be alright; she was only a baby really when Dracula had cursed her. Perhaps between the blessing and time, she would change. We could hope; and so we sailed on the steamship, Atlantic, to England’s shores. We docked at the Royal Victoria Dock in London. We would take a house in St. John’s Wood. It was quite a nice residence. “We will be happy here,” Louis said. And I agreed, in fact I loved it. I enjoyed the quiet of the neighborhood, the pleasing sights and sounds of London. It was good to be home. Dia began to look happier than I had ever seen her. A woman Louis knew from a coven came to reside with us at that time. It’s always best to have one of our kind with us. And so we thrived there and Dia did as well. Of course, in time, she did realize that though she continued to grow, her brother and sister did not. I didn’t look forward to explaining the reason for
that. When I did, she said she understood though I doubted she could. There were other truths to tell as well. I had to tell her I was not her real mother. I explained her own mother had given her over to me to raise. I did not tell her the entire truth surrounding her mother’s death until she was old enough to understand. I knew nothing of the mother. All I knew was she looked to be a Gypsy, but I did not wish to tell Dia that. So I lied a little. “I am not certain where she came from. I think she was from the east. Her name was Nadya.” Dia’s eyes filled with tears and she repeated the name. “And that is why I am Dia Nadya.” I hugged her and assured her how very much she was loved from the moment I took her. “Your mother died knowing her daughter had a home.” Dia smiled. “What you did was a kindness. You could not have done more.” I saw hope then. I felt she was going to be alright. Whatever had happened was in the past. I
thought perhaps being in the bosom of our family would drive away any evil influences. One year passed and then another. Eventually, a nice young man began to call on her and they courted. His name was Edward and he was kind and forthright and seemed to love Dia, which was all we could wish for. I was certain he would ask for her hand, and he did. Louis told me he was delighted. When he noticed my expression he said I worry about everything. That is true, but so too was my fear of a church wedding. I need not have feared though for they have recently eloped of all things. In truth, Dia suggested it to her fiancée as it would put my heart at ease. The house feels empty without my daughter. All I can do is wait to hear from her because they are bound for Italy by ship. Louis tells me not to worry. “Let them be, Rose. We will hear from them.” I agree, though I cannot stand the waiting.
PART TWO DIA CHAPTER 2 He always wanted me. I was his for my entire life and did not know it.
Or perhaps I did in my dreams. Dreams going back so far, I could almost recall his voice speaking to me of undying love … or was it life? As much as I tried to recall more, I could not, although there were things I knew. I knew for example that there was a curse ... and then a blessing. Although I would know in time, the curse was actually an ardent wish: “I will have you for my bride one day...” I do not remember that; I only vaguely recall the blessing as just a flash of a stern face and the sound of words I could not yet understand. I do however remember the scent of incense, the strangely sweet aroma I have rarely smelled. He bade me go to him, all the time I was growing up. Even when he was no longer feared by
my parents, he was wishing me to go to him. It was my destiny. And in my child’s brain, I dreamed of a secret prince calling me forth, telling me to calm myself, assuring me I would live in a castle someday and would rule over a kingdom with him. “You will want for nothing; everything you wish shall be yours. ... I will wait...” And he did, too, for the longest time. In between the fanciful dreams, I grew up. When I was seventeen, there was a young man— not my prince from faraway, but a nice young man my parents liked. He was slender and almost fragile in his handsomeness. It was the art, Mama said. “He is a poet and thinks of other things. He is almost removed from this world.” She looked wistful when she said that because she did not live in the living world, nor did my brother and sister. And as for Papa, he was more different still, a true immortal, the son of a fallen angel and a human woman. They were creatures of the blood, yet despite
that, they were gentle and did no one harm. Still, Edward never knew about them. “Best not to tell people. ... We can never trust the living.” Mama’s words of advice, and I nodded. Tragic words said with sadness and regret, and no living person could possibly understand this heartbreaking truth. Yes, Rose is my mama for I recall no other. Though there was another who had given birth to me, one cruelly killed by vampires. I think I half expected a dramatic announcement, a clarification of the circumstances of my birth. I was after all a human child in a family of vampires. “Dia, my child. You are much loved…” She went on to explain how she had adopted me. “Your own mother perished by evil vampires.” I was told of the horrible circumstances of how I came to be orphaned and then saved. “From the first moment I saw you, Dia, I loved you as though you were my own.” We embraced then. “I am yours and always
shall be…your daughter and Papa’s, too.” I meant it of course, before my fate was irrevocably altered. I would marry Edward with every loving intention I had of being a good and dutiful wife to him. It was my idea to avoid a church wedding. This I did for my parents. “Think of it, Edward, we shall run away. How romantic that will be!” Actually, it was the best thing. No priest would have to be consulted; none of my family would have to enter the church. Mama was pleased though she sighed. “I cannot give you my blessing or Papa either...” No, they could not. I kissed them; they are not warm-blooded creatures, but I have never felt a chill from their touch. I have only felt love and comfort. My brother and sister, children forever, wept when I was readying to leave. “We will miss you, sister.” I was crying when Edward’s carriage came.
And when I saw him standing beside it I embraced him so he would not see my tears. He helped me inside. “They still sleep, they don’t know, right?” He was worried that our open secret should be discovered. But I told him it was not and we kissed chastely there in the carriage. And so what I thought was a happy fairytale began to unfold. “We are right on schedule,” he said, looking at his watch. And so we were. We boarded a ship bound for Italy. The ship’s captain married us. Edward had arranged it. I recall the service—joyful and full of light and flowers, a wedding breakfast and congratulations. We spent the day on deck, gazing out at the sea, watching the sunlight shimmering upon it. And when the sun sank into the horizon, we dressed for dinner. When night fell and we were alone, I opened myself to him in our cabin. I, the new bride, the young woman who desired love and romance and
my husband’s heart, did wish to know what love was like, but he was ill. Something had seized him and sickened him. At first I thought it seasickness, but when he didn’t get better and grew more pale and listless, I called for the ship’s doctor. “Your husband is quite ill, Madame. The captain is docking at Bilbao, in Spain. I will accompany you to the infirmary there.” The hospital was not far from the dock. I wanted so to go inside with him, but was told to wait outside. The doctor returned later. I knew from the expression on his face that my worst fears were realized. “Señora, he is gone. I am sorry; it is a fever of unknown origin and he has passed from this world.” I laughed, oh yes I did a crazed cackle, and then I was silent. I stared at faces and saw that people were speaking to me, but I could not hear a word! Until... “They will need to make arrangements. I can help. ... Will you be wishing to have the body sent on...?”
I broke down and it was decided he would be buried. Mercifully, there would be no autopsy. I remember very little of what happened after this, although I do remember a priest with a gentle face and a voice to match. “I speak English...” I sat and listened as he spoke. Such comforting words, words with lightness and good in them, words from the Bible said to me to ease my anguish. Still, in the last analysis, they were only words and nothing else. For it was not in this well-meaning priest’s power to return my husband to me. He saw my distress. “I am sorry for your loss...” Yes, death ... that implacable barrier, that great abyss that we all slip into when our lives are ended—death had indeed come to take my love from me. They were kind, these people in Bilbao. I was taken to a modest cottage; a couple known to the priest took me there. Their English was very poor, but kindness has a language of its own. I was
shown to a small room, where it was made plain to me through pats and smiles that I could stay as long as I liked. The woman gestured toward her mouth and nodded. She wanted me to eat. I shook my head but then, to please her, I did take some bread. She had me follow her into a small room. The curtain was drawn and the room, bathed in shadow, had a kind of eerie quiet to it. Actually, I liked it. I’d have preferred the unremitting dark of the grave, though—my grave, because I no longer wished to live. I hadn’t realized how much I loved Edward but I had. At last, among the grief and shock, I realized I must write to my parents. I would do that when I woke. Suddenly weary, I couldn’t fight the overpowering desire to sleep; it was almost as though I had been drugged. “Come to me, you are mine now...Dia...!” The command again; that voice I hadn’t remembered for so long had returned. Only now
there were different circumstances. I was on my own and in mourning. Never had I been more vulnerable, as though I had no will of my own. Dia, you will be brought to me... And so a journey began, one I recall very little of. I do remember stepping out into the night, leaving the kind haven because he was willing it. I know now it was Dracula. A carriage waited outside. I could barely make out the figure of a man. He helped me inside. I think I nodded. There was actually comfort in my having no will of my own. “Sit back.” His voice was accented, but I didn’t notice —not then. I sat and the carriage lurched forward. Then, I slept. In fact, that seemed to be all I did— sleeping and eating. Sometime later, a man’s face peered into mine. A kindly face, but serious with intent: “Eat.” And so I did, like a little puppet given a command that I obeyed.
“We are going now...” Yes, we were stepping from one carriage into another carriage and onto a train and another, sometimes sitting on benches in between, waiting —but waiting for what? I heard whistles and voices speaking in languages I did not understand. “Sleep.” Yes, of course. The puppet slept and ate when told to. I finally began to wake on the fourth day of this strange time, this journey of mine. I know now it was indeed a journey that lasted four days, counting the nights spent in inns. I can recall nothing of those nights, just whispers in dark rooms and the sound of doors closing and someone coming in to see me, a sliver of light and then darkness. “Yes, you sleep.” And dream, too. There were dreams; never did I have more frequent or more vivid ones. I dreamed of a man standing in shadow. I couldn’t see his face, only
his eyes, which burned with a great intensity. “Come to me...!” And so I did. “Borgo Pass!” I heard the words I shall remember forever and ever...words that fixed my fate, stamping it into an irrevocable finality. “You will soon be home” Home? A young foreign-looking man sat beside me in a carriage. “It is alright, Miss, you are nearly there.” It was night when I looked out to see a strange looking world. There, in the light of a full moon, trees twisted into skeletal hands reaching out, but for what? For me? “The moon is leading us... It is a good omen.” And then the words I will never forget: “There!” he cried. “Look!” I did, and gasped, for we were approaching a great castle, dark and ominous looking, with sinister spires and broken battlements. It looked
like something out of a dark fairy tale. The carriage jerked to a stop and he stepped out. “You are home...” I did not question him even in my own mind. Instead, I rose on trembling legs. He helped me out, and as I stepped onto the rubble strewn entranceway, the great doors opened and a figure appeared. If I was expecting a servant, I did not see one. Instead, I saw a distinguished looking man, tall and clean shaven but for a white moustache. He was holding a lamp. "Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!" He didn’t move, not until I stepped inside whereupon he moved toward me, his hand reaching for mine. “Miss Dia.” Suddenly, I noticed his eyes. There flashed a fearful light there, but only for a moment. “I am Dracula,” he said. “And I have waited for this moment for so long.”