The Guise of the Demon
Based on the novel "Dracula" by Bram Stoker



by Rosey Collins

"France," Ben deducted, "has the prettiest girls, but then too much choice can be a minus."

"How is it for wolves?" his companion asked with a strong French accent.

"Not good, but there are wolves in Europe. America and Canada are the best, though."

"You don't want to go back to America."

"Not just yet."

"And I don't want to go back to Canada."

"Too many enemies."

"Exactement. It will not be long before you have enemies all over the globe."

For the first time in a long time, Ben smiled. He and his wolfish companion were strolling through the countryside of Transylvania, the sun having set two hours since. A full moon was now burning brightly in the dark blanket which loomed domineering above them.

"Romania, huh? We won't be very welcome," Ben continued, his gaze wandering to the famous building silhouetted magnificently against the night sky. "You know what they think of our kind here."

"Oui, bien sur. You more than me," he added in English, shooting Ben a sideways glance.

"Well, that's just not true. You know, you're his namesake; you must know the Romanian for wolf." Ben's mouth had become austere once again, but his eyes danced mischievously. "Run from the harbour to the castle. I'll meet you there and then fly from one of the towers. We'll see how many people the papers say claim they saw Count Dracula."

"Are the people around here really that superstitious?"

"Big-headed. It's a very famous book, and they're right in the middle of it all. Wouldn't they just love it if it all came true?"

"Est les femmes?" His smile widened. And the ladies? "Have you seen one you like yet?"

Ben raised his eyes skyward, where two or three bats had occasionally passed over them. A young female of about nineteen years caught his eye, and for the second time in as many minutes a smile entertained the corner of his mouth.

"One or two. What about you, Wolfsbane?"

"Huh! I have not seen hide nor hair of a she-wolf since we got here."

Ben touched the back of Wolfsbane's knee encouragingly. "Don't worry. I'll find you a real pretty one."

With little or no warning he took to the sky, doubtless grateful for an excuse to stretch his wings: he had not flown once since the few metres from the train upon arrival (he and Wolfsbane had stowed away on a train to get here, the latter being unable to fly). Ben did not begin searching for wolves right away, but directed his first high-pitched shriek towards the pretty young bat whom he had spotted seconds before. The vibrations bounced off her face and her comely features reached his ultra-sensitive ears.

"Better than I'd thought," he murmured to himself in that slow, southern drool. "Now then, Wolfsbane..."


" 'Something made me start up, a low, piteous howling of dogs somewhere far below the valley, which was hidden from my sight'," Foxglove recited, the words rolling from her tongue, the softness of her voice soothing to her listener's ears. " 'Louder it seemed to ring in my ears, and the floating motes of dust to take new shapes to the sound as they danced in the moonlight...' "

She took a deep breath and laid the book on her lap, cover-up and still open at the pages which she had just been reading from. She was sitting on the right hand side of the hotel book. She glanced down at Dale, lying on his back and stretched the entire length of the bed, wondering whether he was asleep.

"Well, don't stop." Evidently not. Dale rolled onto his front and rested his chin on his elbows.

"You don't mean to say you're enjoying it."

"Of course."

"Do you even understand it?"

"No, but I'm not listening to the words." His eyes were still shut; this and his contented smile made him look somehow childish. Foxglove felt she might as well be reading to her very young offspring. "I just find I like the sound of your voice. It's real pretty, you know."

"Well, thank you," Foxglove smiled. "That's the first time you've paid me a compliment since we got here."

"Just read the book, would you?" he murmured, justifiably fatigued from that morning's journey.

"Well, if you're not listening to the words, you won't mind if I skip to my favourite part."

"I doubt I'd notice."

Foxglove picked up the text once again and began flicking through the pages. When she came to about a quarter of the way through the book she stopped, slowly turned over three pages, scanning the words on each, and at last focussing on one passage.

" 'When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow. There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure. I called in fright, "Lucy! Lucy!" and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes. Lucy did not answer, and I ran...' "

Dale propped himself up on his elbows and regarded her tentatively. She returned his gaze enquiringly, waiting for him to speak.

"That's your favourite part?"

"Aha."

"Why?"

"Why? Well, it's the closest Stoker ever gets to..."

"To what?"

"Sensual."

"Oh." Dale hoisted himself onto his knees so that now they were facing one another diagonally, and he continued to watch her face. "Pretty tame, isn't it?"

"Yes, but books were in those days. Still, it lets you use your imagination a little bit." She scanned through the few remaining sentences of the paragraph and then went on, "Listen to this bit: 'When I bent over her I could see that she was still asleep. Her lips were parted, and she was breathing - not softly, as usual with her, but in long, heavy gasps, as though striving to get her lungs full at every breath. As I came close, she put up her hand in her sleep and pulled the collar of her nightdress close round her throat. Whilst she did so there came a little shudder through her, as she felt the cold. I flung the warm shawl over her, and drew the edges tight round her neck, for I dreaded lest she should get some deadly chill from the night air, unclad as she was'." She turned her gaze back towards Dale, whose eyes were now fixed attentively on her face; clearly he had been absorbing every word. "Obviously Dracula has somehow lured underdressed Lucy outside in the middle of the night, done some - you know - fiddling, and been sucking on her neck."

Dale swiveled into a sitting position. "Doesn't tell us about that, though, does he."

"Well, Mina didn't see any of that happen. That's why I think it would be better just as a simple narrative." She turned to the contents page, one wing still keeping her place in the book, and scanned down the list of journals, letters and newspaper extracts which compiled to tell the story. "That way Dracula could..." She began to think.

Dale smiled impishly. "What?"

"Well, thrust her into his arms and press his lips to hers with..." - she racked her brains for a suitable phrase - "...with passion in his eyes and an uncontrollable bloodlust eating him away from the inside." She noticed the impending passion in Dale's eyes. "Do you want me to go on reading?"

"No." He took the paperback from her and extended his arm towards the small bedside table, simultaneously craning his neck so that his lips could meet Foxglove's own. "It's getting pretty late."

"How late?" She exposed her neck to him, evidently unruffled by the groundbreaking horror story she had just been reading.

"About midnight," Dale answered, shuffling closer. "Why?"

"I'm just wondering whether the kids are asleep yet. You don't think they'll sleep-walk or anything, do you?"

"Why would they sleep-walk?"

"Because they're in different beds, and young children in particular sleep-walk when they're sleeping in different beds."

Endeavouring not to demonstrate his impatience, Dale lifted his right arm and ran his thumb gently up and down the edge of Foxglove's left ear. Into the other ear he began crooning softly:

"You worry too much. I'd bet money they're still in bed and they're sound asleep."


"Transylvania's swimming with them!" Dani exclaimed, displaying huge, whole-body gestures and distressing the sheets of the bed on which she stood.

"Can they get in here?" little Nick asked excitedly. He was kneeling upright on his own bed, leaning forward and neck craned, evidently very much impressed at what he was hearing.

Dani halted halfway through one of her larger-than-life narrative moments and met her little brother's eyes, straining her mind to induce the effect of fire in her own. Slowly she sank to a crouching position so as to reach Nick's eye-level, never diverting her look from his face. Softly yet malignantly, she lowered her previously boisterous tone to a whisper:

"Depends."

"On what?" Nick breathed.

"On what form it's taken."

"How do you mean?"

"Vampires can appear as any of three animals. If it's a wolf, it can't get in through the window. If it's a man, it can't get in through the window. But if it's a bat..."

"Vampires are bats?"

Dani lowered herself onto the floor and stood upright. "Can be."

Cautiously Nick looked towards the hotel room door, opposite which was his parent's room. "Do you think Mommy's a vampire?"

"Of course Mom isn't one," Dani replied disdainfully. "She goes out in the middle of the day. I already told you vampires explode in the sun."

"Oh yeah." He sounded disappointed.

"You wanna know how you can kill a vampire?"

"Well, I better had, hadn't I."

"Ok." Dani glanced at the wall clock. Ten past midnight. "Then we're going to sleep."

"Why?"

"Because I'm tired," - this was not true - "and you are too," - this probably was, though Nick would never admit it. "But first..."

She turned on her heel and strolled towards the window. She moved very slowly, and Nick found the suspense to be unbearable. The window was open. Dani rested her elbows on the sill and leaned her head out - at once she felt a cool breeze on her face and she closed her eyes to enhance the feeling of tranquillity it brought.

"Well?" Nick broke the silence.

"Hold on," Dani said, turning her face towards him. "It's a dramatic pause, ok?"

She turned back to the window and breathed in the night. Night, she decided, had a very distinct smell, and it was the smell and not the lack of light which made a place feel so different at night.

"All of the movies and the books say something different," Dani began in a tone which might remind any listener of Scherherazade; "some say you can kill a vampire by cutting off its head, or by burning it, but some say you can't. Some say crosses and garlic kill them, and others say they just weaken them, but they always do one or the other. The only two ways," she continued, "that everybody can agree on, are exposure to sunlight and a stake through the heart."

"A steak?"

"Not that kind of steak," Dani said, seeming to know instinctively what he meant. She turned her back to the window and leant the small of her back against the sill. "A wooden stake. A piece of wood, really. Anything wooden will do; pencil, table leg, tree branch..."

"Are there any stakes in here?" Nick asked, looking anxiously about the room.



Lil Nicky - adorable!
Ilya Pestov
"Go to sleep," Dani said, "and I'll find one. I could have sworn I brought a pencil with me."

Whilst Nick settled himself, Dani turned back to the open window. The night was not quite still; there was breeze enough to noticeably disturb the trees. From that hotel room there was a very pretty view. Dani listened to the distant cries of wolves. She had not expected to see one, but was pleasantly surprised when she did. Amicably she watched it until it was out of sight, and then she looked skyward. There were several bats out. Had Bram Stoker not already done so, Dani reflected, she might have felt inspired to write a literary masterpiece about this place.

She twisted round at the waist and looked at where Nick was lying. His eyes were shut but it would be a few more minutes before he was asleep. Dani took one last look at the tranquil scene before returning to her bed, where she began to put into some semblance of order the sheets which she had ransacked whilst trying to create an atmosphere to enhance her vampire stories.


Dale lay sleeping peacefully, his calm demeanour reflecting that of the night outside. Foxglove was, however, for whatever reason, still awake. She was now reading the passages of Dracula which she had skipped in an attempt to find a part of the book which might interest her husband, finding Stoker's narrative to be even more entertaining the second time she read it. She decided that when she had first read the book during the few years she had spent in San Francisco she had not enjoyed it so much because the atmosphere was in contrast to the story, but now she was in the heart of it all; the book seemed much more real here.

It was almost four o'clock in the morning when sleep began to overtake her. She rested the book on the floor, as no furniture dignified her side of the bed, but she decided that before she went to sleep she should check on the kids: Mina Murray's concern that her friend Lucy had been sleep-walking had set her nerves on edge, as the strangest things will do to mothers.

Careful to be as silent as possible, Foxglove eased open the door of her room and walked the few steps across the hall. She found Nick very much asleep, but imagine her anxiety when she saw Dani's bed empty. It had certainly been slept in, or at least romped in - so where was she now? Sleep-walking? Foxglove was sure she would have heard the door open. Her gaze fell upon the open window. Sleep-flying, then? She went quickly to the window and glanced upwards: the sky was entirely empty now, save the beautiful full moon.

Foxglove wondered what she should do next. She decided against telling Dale, and then she decided that Dani could not have gone far if she was asleep and would not have gone far if she was awake. She began to search the hotel.


Eventually Foxglove found her missing daughter. She saw her approaching the building, flying very low. She called her name.

"Mom!" Dani seemed faintly surprised. "What are you doing out here?"

As Dani landed at her feet, Foxglove noticed something raise its head and look in her direction. She did not much want to analyse what it might be just now, but her eyes told her that it was a bat, and he was leaning over a figure clad in white. Again the words of Bram Stoker flashed through her mind, but they stayed only briefly.

"Looking for you," she said sharply to Dani. The supposed bat had stood up to its full height and was looking pensively at her. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Just looking around. I really don't know why you're this upset. You and I have been out at night before, and I am almost seven years old." Six months away, anyway. "There are no real vampires here, you know."

"Dani, I was worried. You really mustn't take off like that."

"Mom, I really didn't think you'd know."

Foxglove sighed. It was too late at night to discipline a six-year-old girl. "Honey, go back to bed."

Glad to have been spared the lecture, Dani obeyed. Foxglove stayed where she was as what was now undoubtedly another bat had begun to approach her. She dismissed all thoughts of vampires and vulnerable young English girls from her mind and brought into use her echolocation skills. She could hardly believe her ears.

"Ben!"

"Foxglove." Ben nodded politely as he came to a halt before her. "What are you doing here?"

Foxglove's wings were clasped about her middle and she drew back from him in a hostile manner. She looked him up and down once, and then grudgingly she spoke to him:

"Vacation."

"That was your daughter?"

"Aha. Dale and I have been saying for a long time we should take them somewhere, and now seemed a good time. Dani's generally a good kid but Gadget really wanted Nick out of the way."

"How come?"

"Pregnant."

The white figure which had so reminded of that night's reading had risen from the damp grass where she lay and was now looking in their direction. Foxglove's ears told her that it was a pretty young bat of about nineteen years. Impatiently the girl called Ben's name.

"I'll be back in a minute," Ben replied, not raising his voice. The girl had good ears, after all.

"Who's that?"

"Her name's Jennifer."

"She's pretty."

"Yes."

"And young."

"Yes."

"I take it you're lying to her."

Ben nodded.

Foxglove's expression remained unaltered. "You'll never change."

"Well, you're right there, Foxglove, I won't. At first I wanted to but... can I be honest with you?"

"Huh! You can try."

"I don't care, ok? I don't care about her. I know what you're thinkin', and I know it's terrible, but even if I did care it wouldn't be enough to stop lyin' to her. I made the mistake of carin' about you, and what happened next? I spent the next few years absolutely miserable. I even cared about Gadget even though I knew she'd be all right, and now look at you: you're both married with kids. I needn't have worried." He shook his head without really knowing why. Guilt, maybe. "She'll get over it. She'll run to Mommy an Daddy and they'll buy her a nice pair of shoes to make her feel better.

"Truth is, Foxglove, she makes me feel good. My parents and that cult, they could do that too, but these girls... they treat me like I'm somethin' really special. I know I'm not, but I like it. And then there's the scar..."

"The scar?" Foxglove's eyes dropped and focused on the obscenity running the length of his right flank and disfiguring his otherwise virile form. "I didn't know you resented the scar."

"Of course I resent the scar. If it wasn't for that I'd be..."

"Perfect?"

"Well, of course not. Hey, you know what I mean."

Foxglove nodded, and Ben sighed as he searched for the right words to further express himself.

"Gadget was the first. She used to kiss it and touch it so benignly - she'd treat it like a little lost chick or something, and for the first time in my life I wasn't sorry it was there."

"Ben!" came Jennifer's lofty tones.

"Ben," Foxglove said, "that scar is a direct result of your lies."

"Well, that's part of the reason I hate it so much. I was a kid, Foxglove; not much older than your Dani. Using corporal punishment on a child that age..." He sighed again. "I would always hate it, but I only resent it because it's not supposed to be there. Yes, I deserved to be punished but:-"

He was cut short by a deep sigh from Foxglove, and he could see that she was shaking her head sadly.

"Why do you tell me these things, Ben?"

"I don't know. I didn't mean to tell you any of that, but this has happened before, hasn't it. I seem to suddenly find I've said things to you."

A wolf howled from somewhere near the harbour, and both heads turned in that direction.

"Sounds like Wolfsbane," Ben murmured.

"Who?"

"Friend of mine."

More howls followed Wolfsbane's: wonderful moon for baying at, Foxglove thought.

" 'Listen to them - the children of the night'," Ben muttered. " 'What music they make'."

"Dracula."

"You've read it?"

"Yes, and so have you, apparently. I never saw you as much of a book worm."

"I had to read it before I came here, didn't I. It's good."

"It is good, if you stomach these old classics." She looked to where Jennifer was waiting and said callously, "You're wanted."

Submissively Ben took a few steps back and then turned through a-hundred-and-eighty degrees and hastened back to Jennifer. Foxglove did not stay and watch his fraudulent courting ritual.


Ben and Wolfsbane had agreed to meet at the old building which had inspired the famous Castle Dracula at dawn. Ben had been expecting it to have been at least partially eroded, but they found the castle to be in very good condition. They had planned to make it their temporary home until they left Romania.

The duo was able to find its way into the cellar where Wolfsbane made himself as comfortable as possible on the floorboards whilst Ben found a rafter on the ceiling on which to sleep. They were childlike in their tendency to become tired only at irregular intervals, and so for a few minutes they stayed awake and talked about the previous night's activities.

"So how did you like the little moll I found you?" Ben asked, looking down upon his companion from the perch on the ceiling.

"She was cute all right, but she spoke neither English nor French."

"Je suis desolee," Ben replied; he had picked up a little French and liked to use it whilst talking to Wolfsbane. "I wasn't aware you wanted to talk to her."

"I try to talk to them a little, but I guess it does not matter. Et toi?"

"I couldn't tell you nothin' about Jennifer you ain't already heard." He paused. "I ran into an old acquaintance of mine from Texas."

"What kind of acquaintance?"

Ben almost laughed. "Oh, every kind. Step-sister, ex-girlfriend, old enemy, childhood bully victim... name any kind of relationship we've pretty much had it. I don't think I like her."

"Pourquoi?"

"She makes me tell her stuff I don't even like to admit to myself - unintentionally, of course. She just made me realise a few things."

"Such as?"

"I'm a jerk."

"You did not already know this?"

"Yes, but now it seems like a bad thing. It occurred to me last night that I don't see my parents enough." He emitted a heartfelt sigh. "It's been over three years, you know."

"So what are you saying? You want to go back to Texas?"

"Soon. Maybe. I did promise 'em I'd visit as often as I could."

"You are not the first person to lie to its parents in that way."

"No."

"I told mine I would visit them every year."

"You haven't seen them for six."

"Exactly, but that is how it goes."

"C'est la vie."

"Oui."

"Wolsbane, have you ever been to England?"

"Non. No. I had not left Canada until I came with you. Why?"

"I'd like to go back there before we visit Texas," Ben replied. "It's a beautiful country, I... I want you to see it."

Wolfsbane lifted his head. "Whitby?"

"Whitby? I've not been to Whitby."

"Bon. We will visit every location in that book you read."

"There are no wolves in England, Wolfsbane."

"None at all?"

"There are some in the zoos - in captivity. There are no wild wolves."

Again Wolfsbane rested his chin on his paws and he stared at nothing. It was a while before either of them spoke again.

"Why wolves?" Wolfsbane said at last.

"Huh?"

"Bats I can understand: vampire bats drink the blood of dead animals, but why are we in the book?"

"Because," Ben began sleepily, his eyes becoming heavy, "your species is common in Romania. You're creatures of the night, like we are, and people fear you."

Wolfsbane nodded silently to himself, and then, "Sleep well, Ben."

"Merci, toi aussi."

Ben did not sleep well.


Ben and Foxglove met again the following night, this time outside the church in the graveyard. They regarded one another momentarily, their facial expressions giving nothing away. At last Ben spoke:

"What are you doing here?"

"Hunting."

"Me too."

His gaze fell behind her and focused upon a young female mouse. She was quite alone, and a good target for him, but very soon he took his eyes from her shapely figure and looked again at Foxglove.

"I could have guessed," she said. There was a brief silence. "Aren't you going to go after your little dupe?"

"I don't really feel like it tonight."

Foxglove half chuckled, half scoffed. "You don't?"

Wistfully Ben shook his head, and then something adorning Foxglove's neck which caught the moonlight grabbed his attention. He could see from where he was that it was a silver cross ornamenting a decorative chain. He looked at it coyly, and then he did a bold thing: he extended his wing towards Foxglove and took the cross in it, slightly brushing her fur as he did so. Something indescribable stirred within him, but he did not let it show.

"It's nice." Had he been looking at Foxglove's face, he would have seen blatant indignation. "Takin' these horror stories a little seriously, ain't you?"

"Not at all. It was... it is none of your business."

"A gift from your husband?"

Foxglove nodded.

"What's it in aid of?"

"It was our anniversary yesterday. He said he wanted to give me something topical."

"How long?"

"Eight years. Ben, why are you so interested?"

Ben considered. Why was he so interested? Seconds which seemed to him like minutes elapsed. He concluded that he was not at all interested in what Foxglove had to say - he simply liked to talk to her. He liked to hear her soft, intangible voice echoing in his head, the words melting into one another before they reached his ears and his subconscious mind piecing them together and telling him what to say next to keep her talking. He liked to watch her lips, which he knew were soft and pleasing to the touch, meeting and then parting to reveal her supple tongue gliding over smooth white teeth. He liked to remember what it had felt like to press those same luscious, amiable lips to his own and slide his tongue through their divide to meet hers. He liked to kiss her...

"Ben!" She pushed him forcibly from her and wiped her mouth with the back of her wing as if hoping to abolish this offending deed from ever having happened.

"I'm sorry," Ben replied.

"No you're not."

"No, I'm not." He looked up and could see the fury burning away in those normally credulous eyes. "I... didn't mean to say that out loud."

Foxglove could think of nothing more to say, and so went straight back to the hotel without giving Ben another glance. He watched her go, and then wondered what he should do next. The pretty young mouse was still in the graveyard, and she was now playing some kind of adult version of "peekaboo" behind a grave stone. Ben considered, and then shook his head.

"I really don't feel like it tonight," he murmured aloud, and then in the direction of the mouse, "At least not with you."


That is, the evening's misadventure was soon forgotten by one, but Ben Porch remembered it very clearly indeed. Wolfsbane was surprised to see him in the castle so soon when he came back around midnight. Ben was not hanging from the ceiling but lying on the floor, chin in folded wings and eyes staring dolefully into space.

"What are you still doing here?" Wolfsbane asked him.

"I don't think I've ever felt less like serenading since I was eight years old," Ben replied absently.

"Ben, are you sick?" Wolfsbane took a seat beside him. "What is wrong with you?"

"I met the girl - the woman I mentioned again."

"So?"

"I'm still attracted to her, Wolfsbane. Of all the women in the world, she's the one I want the most, which is just crazy because I've had her already." He rolled over onto his back. "She's with her husband now. I know what he's doin' you know. He's runnin' his hands through her fur, and kissin' her, and tellin' her how beautiful she is, and how fantastic she smells... that should be me."

"You are wishing you were this woman's husband?"

"Just for tonight, Wolfsbane, just for tonight. Don't you ever wish you were somebody else?"

"Mai oui, many times. Sometimes, Ben, I wish I was you."

"Me?"

"Yes, you. You are so handsome, Ben, you could have any woman you want."

"Not this one."

"Oh no? I don't believe that, Ben. What did you say to me the first time we met? 'You want something, take it'. You want this woman, c'est ca?"

"Oui, bien sur." Occasionally they would switch from English to French in the middle of a conversation and straight back again for no apparent reason.

"So take her. Ben, she loves her husband, but not even the married ones can resist you for long."

Ben sat up. "You're right."

"Ben, am I ever wrong?"

"I want somethin'," Ben said, half to himself, "and tomorrow I'm goin' to take it."


" 'There he lay'," Foxglove read to Dale, having just returned from her encounter with Ben, " 'looking as if youth had been half-renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his repletion'."


Ben stood purposefully upon the castle's battlements, his eyes burning with a new kind of vitality. He was as a hunter, his ambition fixed upon one target which he determined not to let escape his sight. His lips were stained with red wine, a pearl of which rolled neatly down his chin and was absorbed into the light grey fur of his neck. He still held the goblet in his wing, but upon seeing Foxglove take to the air from the hotel window he dropped the article furiously and followed her until she landed, again in the graveyard where they had met the previous evening.

"We have to stop meeting like this."

Startled, Foxglove spun round. She had come to rest on a partially eroded grave stone. She recognised the voice well enough but something about it seemed wrong, and it unnerved her. She only had to turn to face him and smell his breath on her face in order to work out just what this was.

"Ben, are you drunk?"

"Drunk?" Slowly, clearly biding his time, Ben licked the pearl of wine embellishing his lower lip. "You could say that."

By now he was very close to her. This was the first time Foxglove had encountered Ben in this state, and she found herself feeling uneasy about it. Almost without realising it she took a step back.

"Where are you going?" Ben said softly, taking two steps towards her. "You ain't afraid of me, are you?"

"I'm not sure yet," Foxglove returned cautiously.

"You needn't be."

"Ok, look, I'd love to stay, but I really have to be getting back."

With no apparent reservations Ben intrepidly slipped a wing around Foxglove's waist and said, quite coherently and without the slightest slur, "To your husband? Whatever for? You came here to get away, didn't you?"

"Not from Dale." Her heart was pounding but she could not resist a small quip. "That's why I brought him." Hardly appropriate, Foxglove, she thought to herself.

He placed his free wing on her hip. "I can make you forget your husband."

She drew back the upper half of her body. "I don't want to forget him."

"Think of him, then. I shan't mind; I shan't be able to tell, but I'll be thinking about you." He gave a half laugh. "I've though of nothing else since last night."

Foxglove felt herself weaken physically as he pulled her to him. She tried to break free but could not; Ben's grip about her waist was unusually strong for him - she began to panic.

Ben could feel her heartbeat vibrating upon his own chest, they were now in such close contact. "Relax," he whispered in her ear, and he began planting gentle kisses upon her left cheek. Foxglove's pulse increased. How could she escape? Obviously he was too strong for her - something which he had never used against her whilst sober. Slowly his lips descended to her neck. They were warm, soft and passably moist: Foxglove knew that she could enjoy this a great deal if she chose to, but of course that was out of the question.

Finding no more resistance from Foxglove, Ben loosened his grip somewhat. Foxglove noticed, and realised what she would have to do to break free, but still it was too soon. She tried to relax her muscles and even fondled Ben's wing a little with her own - she exposed her neck to him as she had with Dale the other night. She felt lips pressing upon it, then teeth gently nicking her skin. A vessel pounded visibly: Ben noticed it and wrapped his lips around it, seeming to like the feel of its frantic beating. "Who are you thinkin' of now?" he whispered in her ear.

Now, Foxglove told herself. His guard is down and he's loosened his grip; do it now. Swiftly she drove her knee between his legs. With a slight cry (he never made a fuss over such matters) Ben released her completely and doubled up at the waist. Foxglove knew it would be less than a second before he grabbed her again. so speedily she took two steps back, turned and launched herself from the grave stone. Flying as quickly as she could in the direction of the hotel, she did not look back at the dejected figure.


" 'There are some who would stand between you and death'." Her voice began to waver. " 'You must not die. You must not die by any hand; but least of all by your own. Until the other, who has fouled your sweet life, is true dead you must not die; for if he is still with the quick Un-Dead, your death would make you even as he is. No, you must live! You must struggle and strive to live, though death would seem a boon unspeakable...' "

Even as the book was lifted from her hands Foxglove finished the sentence, her voice faltering further. She felt arms encircling her waist and lips pressing forcibly upon her neck. She was tired but she soon forgot her fatigue and her trauma felt herself melting in his arms, the words "Happy anniversary, Foxy" echoing gently in her mind. The evening's misadventure was soon forgotten.

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