• Avon, an imprint of
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • ISBN: 9780061923036




       Dracula crossed to me then and stopped, touching my cheek with one hand as he gazed deeply into my eyes. "Mina," he said gently, "I swear to you, upon my honour: the only real wrong I have ever done your husband—and I admit it is an egregious one—is to covet the woman he loves."

       My breath caught in my throat. He was so near, so very near. I could read the fervent desire in his blue eyes, and I felt an answering need well up within me. All at once, my anger, fears, and doubts evaporated. I did not care if he was lying or not. I did not care whether he was good or evil. All I cared about was that this man's arms should wrap around me, that his body should press close up against me, and that his lips should find mine.

       "They are all bent on destroying you," I whispered. "What shall I do? How can I help you?"

       "I do not think you can help me, my darling. But do not worry. I can take care of myself."

       He drew me close then and kissed me. It was a long and passionate kiss. Desire coursed through me. When his lips left my mouth and travelled down to my throat, I quivered in anticipation, knowing what would come next, wanting it. He promised that I will be safe, I reminded myself. He promised not to harm me.

       He unbuckled the velvet band around my neck and tossed it aside. His eyes—now red—met mine; I gave him my silent ascent, waiting in breathless ecstasy as my head fell back.

       Then I felt it: the prick of his teeth piercing my flesh, and the exquisite joy as my warm blood pulsed from my body into his.

* * * * * * * * *



      It has been seven long years since the first night he came to my chamber, seven long years since the string of haunting, incredible, and perilous events occurred—events which I am certain no one else will believe, even though we took care to make a written record of it. It is those transcripts of our journals—mine, and the other's—which I look at from time to time, to remind myself that it all really happened, and that I did not merely dream it.

      Now and then, when I spy a white mist gathering in the garden below, when a shadow crosses a wall at night, or when I see dust motes swirling in a beam of moonlight, I still find myself jumping in expectation and alarm. Jonathan will press my hand and catch my eye with a silent, reassuring look, as if to let me know that he understands, that we are safe. But when he turns back to his reading by the fire, my heart continues to hammer in my chest, and I am overcome not only by the sense of apprehension that Jonathan knows I feel, but by something else as well . . . by longing.

      Yes, longing.

      The record I kept—the journal I so carefully wrote in shorthand, and then typed for the others to read—was not the entire truth; not my truth. Some thoughts and experiences are too intimate for others' eyes; some desires are too shocking to admit, even to one's self. Were I to reveal all to Jonathan, I know I would lose him forever, as surely as I would lose forever the good opinion of all society.

      I know what my husband wants—what all men want. For a woman—single or married—to be loved and respected, she must be innocent: entirely pure of mind, body, and soul. And so I once was, until he came into my life. At times, I feared him. At other times, I despised him. And yet, even knowing what he was and what he wanted, I could not help but love him.

      I will never forget the magic of being held in his embrace, the compelling magnetism of his eyes as he gazed at me, or how it felt to whirl about the dance floor in his arms. I still shiver with delight when I recall the dizzying sensation of travelling with him at the speed of light, and the way his slightest touch could make me gasp with unimagined pleasure and desire. But the most wondrous times were the hours upon hours of conversation, stolen moments in which we revealed our most private selves to each other, and discovered all that we held in common.

      I loved him. I loved him passionately, profoundly, from the very depths of my being, and with every beating of my heart. There was a time when I might have gladly given up this human life to be with him forever.

      And yet . . . .

      All these years, the truth of what happened has weighed heavily on my mind, taking the pleasure out of ordinary things, stealing my appetite, and banishing sleep. I find I cannot carry the guilty burden within me any longer. I must put it all down on paper, never to be seen by other's eyes, but certain that only in the writing will I at last be free to let it go.