Heart pounding, she rounded a bend and laughed with the ridiculousness of the situation, unable to believe she had accidentally on purpose arrived at the dungeons. Thick, steel bars still enclosed two of the cells and heavy-duty iron handcuffs were chained to the walls. She crept into the first chamber and glided her finger along the iron of the torturous restraints. Imagining the pain and horrors that must have happened there, she shuddered.
“Have ye been naughty? Do I need tae teach ye a lesson and lock ye up?” A voice penetrated the darkness around her, shattering her little game of pretend cat and mouse. She spun to see who’d followed her. Not wanting to be caught in a drunken state, she prayed it was a stranger. But in the same moment, she hoped for someone she knew who wished her no harm. No one would hear me scream for help.
Her candle snuffed out from a breath, and not her own. The chill exhale kissed her neck and skated down her body like an icicle drip. The horror of it sent her hurtling backward. Had it not been for the wall behind her, she would have landed on her butt.
“Who’s there? Bar dude, is that you?” She pressed herself against the cool stone bricks, too excited to be truly afraid. After all, this was what she wanted. To not know what was going to happen next, and to fully engage in life again. And the way her heart jumped and her chest pounded, she felt alive for the first time in years. “Hello?” She peered down the corridor that donned only a flicker of light from the stairway’s sconces.
“It’s me, Dracula.” He stepped into soft, flickering light not two meters away from her, his silhouette giving away his identity. Top hat and tail coat. Definitely him. “I saw ye come down here and wondered if ye were all right. Sorry if I scared ye.” Cool as ice, he strolled toward her.
“I’m fine. A little creeped out, though.” She fanned herself, willing her breath to slow since panting and heaving were not the sexiest of images to go with. And even though she didn’t plan on doing anything about it, she couldn’t help wanting the Count lookalike to desire her.
“Forgive me and let me make it up tae ye.” He slipped his arms around her shoulders and pried her from the wall before pivoting her so her back lay against his chest. It happened too fast, giving her no chance to protest.
Who does this guy think he is? She tried to will herself to fight him off then run like the wind. But her goth self—and the Dracula’s Kisses he’d mixed for her—enticed her to stay wrapped in his arms and enjoy the sense of safe-danger he seemed to offer. This was what she wanted to happen when she took the path down here, if she was honest with herself. She recalled how she’d felt him following her, and how the silly girl in her pretended to run from him. She’d beckoned this to happen. It hadn’t been a drunken, made-up game after all.