Chapter 10: William the Damned by Lynette Ferreira

THE NEXT MORNING when Susanna walks out onto the deck, the sun is shining brilliantly, after the storm’s wrath blew away in the early hours of the morning. She sees the carriage down below on the deck waiting for her. She walks down toward it and then as once before, a lifetime ago, the footman helps her into the carriage.

They arrive at the château and nothing has changed. The house looks the same, the gardens sculpted and the pond in front of the house with the golden fish still swimming lazily in circles.

She walks up the sweeping stairway, into the cool entrance hall. A servant rushes to her, welcoming her. Susanna immediately asks him where her mother is. He leads her to the cellar, and with a feeling of anxiety, Susanna follows him.

The cellar is dark and cold and in the middle of the first passage, she sees the coffin.

They have brought someone in to embalm her mother and now Susanna looks down at her mother’s serene face.

HER HEART IS filled with sadness when she walks behind the carriage carrying the body of her mother. Although she feels sad for the loss of most probably the most important person in her life, she cannot help feeling the sense of release it has given her. She has fulfilled her obligation and she has made sure her mother lived in abundance and safety, now it was time for Susanna to make choices which will result in her own future happiness.

She wonders how her mother would feel if she knew Susanna had chosen to give up the beautiful colours of a summer’s day and from now on to only live at night. Susanna does not ponder this for long, she does not care whether it is day or night and she has chosen the person she loves. She cannot get enough of William.

William arrives days later and Susanna runs to him elated, throwing her arms around his neck. He twirls her, after a second of uncertainty, as he notices the servants in the entrance hall looking at them questioningly.

Immediately she asks, “Where were you?”

He looks at her and instantaneously she knows he needed to feed.

They spend every night together, walking under the moonlight through the vineyards, while Susanna eats grapes, picking them as they walk.

When William needs to feed, he goes across the border to Spain, so there is no suspicion raised close to the château.

Susanna sleeps most of her days away, slowly making the transition. She is gradually changing her life from day into night, knowing there is no rush in running away from the château because the doctor tending to Francois assured her his recovery will last more than six months. She also suspects Francois will then stay on in England to enjoy the lavish lifestyle.

One night she asks, self-consciously, “Do you not want to be with me forever?”

William looks down at her perplexed. “Of course, I do.”

“Then why have you not yet changed me?”

He laughs, relieved. He has been waiting patiently for her to broach the subject again, fearing she might have changed her mind. “Would tomorrow night be too soon for you?”

“No, it would be perfect.” Susanna smiles pleased.

He takes her into his arms and then he caresses her skin softly as if it is the last time he will feel her close to him. He wants to relish the sensation when he feels her skin yield under his own. Soon she will be as he is, although it would be a small sacrifice to be with her for all his life, forever.

FRANCOIS LEAVES ENGLAND against the urgent wishes of his doctor and he arrives in France two months after Susanna leaves England. At the harbour, he buys a horse, because he does not send a message to announce his imminent arrival, he wants to surprise Susanna. He is in a hurry to get to Susanna, and he could not wait to see her, jealousy has been eating at his heart and mind for months.

SUSANNA IS PREPARING for her future and she is elated because tonight she will become the same as William. She will be his and he hers forever more.

Francois arrives at the château late in the afternoon and the sun is on its downward drop toward the horizon.

He jumps off the horse and then he runs up the stairs to the front door. He throws open the doors and walks through into the entrance hall, just as Susanna reaches the foot of the stairs, observing the visible shock on her face when she sees him.

Francois walks closer to her elated, with his arms outstretched, while Susanna stands frozen. “Susanna,” he calls out joyously.

When he reaches her, he leans closer to wrap her into his arms and to lift her. He wants to hold her close to his heart.

Susanna shies away from him and steps backwards.

The smile fades from Francois’ face and a frown forms in his brow. He feels his heart ripped from his chest.

He clenches his fists, when she says, “I am sorry, Francois. I cannot do this anymore.”

“What is it you cannot do anymore?” Francois asks through his clenched jaw. He is intensely furious and he has an urgent need to hit something.

“I am sorry; I do not love you. I want to be with William. I choose him.”

“You choose a parasitical leech? A vampire?”

Susanna squares her shoulders and defiantly she insists, “Yes, I do.”

“You only want to live in the black and white of night?”

“Yes, my love for William will make it bearable. His love will bring colour to my nights.”

Francois laughs hysterical and Susanna steps away from him nervously.

He bumps roughly into her and then he grabs her around her waist.

Susanna screams and she hits her fists against his chest. “No, Francois! Let me go!”

He lifts her off her feet and he carries her up the stairs and into her room. He throws her onto her bed violently and then he falls onto her, as she tries to squirm off the bed. The look on his face frightens Susanna and she knows with certainty today he is going to kill her.

She hits up at his face and her nail catches his eye.

Cursing loudly, he holds his hand over his face. He rolls away from her and Susanna hurriedly crawls off the bed and falls onto the floor.

On her knees, she crawls into a corner and then she stands up quickly. Her back turned to the wall, while she holds a heavy chair protectively in front of her, the feet of the chair pointed toward him.

He walks to the door, laughing frantically. He slams the door behind him and then she hears the lock turn.

William wakes when he hears Susanna scream. He swiftly crawls out of the corner he had crept into for the day. He senses it is still day and for an instant, he hesitates before he storms out of the cellar.

Sunlight fills the house and all the curtains are open. He feels the discomfort instantly and his skin feels hot and sweltering.

He runs up through the kitchen. The servants are all running hysterically, trying to get out of the kitchen door, trampling each other in their haste.

William hears the crackling noise of fire and he smells the smoke. He turns from the kitchen and then he runs toward the front of the house.

Francois is standing in the entrance hall looking up at the flames engulfing everything above him. He had set fire to the entire top floor of the château. When he held the torch to the flammable materials, they went up with a whoosh and in seconds, everything was burning. The heat is intense and growing stronger.

When Francois sees William, he laughs wildly. “Now no-one will have her.”

William goes running past Francois. He needs to get upstairs and he can hear Susanna coughing and screaming from her bedroom.

Francois grabs William to stop him, but William hits him backwards. Francois skids across the floor and then loudly his head bangs against the opposite wall. Francois slumps down into an unconscious heap.

William runs up the stairs. He is running so fast the flames blend and combines in a smudge when they open as he runs through them and then closes behind him again.

He breaks through her bedroom door effortlessly and Susanna is standing by the window, trying to open it. Her panic is making her fingers clumsy. He runs to her and then opens the window. The sunlight catches his fingers and there is an immediate scorching sound.

He takes Susanna in his arms, cradling her against his chest and then pressing his face into the nape of her neck, he breathes her in, deeply, sadly. He whispers softly, “Susanna, I will always love you.” Jumping out of the window, he lands on his feet.

Susanna feels the shock of the impact vibrate through his body.

Gently he puts Susanna down onto her feet.

Fleetingly William feels his heart beat in his chest, his lungs fill up with air and then an extraordinary pain numbs all feeling out of his mind. He feels an immense feeling of loss at the thought of not spending eternity with Susanna, but then he feels something within him release and he is strangely content it is all over. His hunger and his immortality, all of this culminating toward his damnation, have come to an abrupt end.

Susanna turns to William, her arms automatically reaching up to hold him, a sigh of relief on her lips. William had rescued her from the burning château and they are both safe.

Just in time, she sees William blow away in the gentle breeze. From dust to dust, as he once told her.

She forgot the sun, which she was so reluctant initially to give up for him, is still shining brightly in the afternoon sky.

Susanna tries to grab at the ash but they pass through her fingers. He is gone. As abruptly as William appeared in her life, just so abruptly he left.

Susanna sinks down on her knees, as an immense sense of despair envelopes her. She hears the château burn and she hears loud crashes as it collapses piece by piece. As each noise echo through the late afternoon, Susanna feels herself shatter.

Her hand covers a bit of ash in the grass protectively and with numb fingers, she picks it up carefully and then she locks it away in the locket around her neck, letting it hang close to her heart.

As the last shades of pastel colours leave unkempt promises in the evening sky, Susanna sits with her back to the smouldering château and she listens to the night come alive.

She already had a suspicion she could be with child, although she was not sure, and now when she feels a tiny flutter in her stomach, she holds her hand protectively over it.

William the damned was born countless years ago, a half-blood.

William was born with a lust for blood, but a curse for humanity.

For Susanna and for enduring, everlasting love, William made the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the end of Book One and we hope you enjoyed reading this story so far! 

Copyright © Lynette Ferreira. All Rights Reserved. 
All work created and posted on this blog is the intellectual property of Lynette Ferreira.


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