Chantelle's cold, dead hand slipped into my own like velvet ice.
“The balcony, Monsieur?”
“Please, Jean. You know formality makes me feel old, Princess.”
“Are you not?” she giggled.
I gave her a narrow-eyed glare.
In sashaying majesty, she led me out onto the moonlit balcony, a slight breeze stirring the purple silks of her gowns and tousling those flowing, raven locks. Neither the orchestra, nor revellers, noticed our absence, all far too absorbed with their petty pleasures.
Scattered geranium bushes emitted a faint pomade into the night in wafts of delicious perfume. The fragrance circulated in the evening's air currents mixing with Chantelle's own exquisite scents. She was everything a man could have desired, perfection personified.
“Come here.” I pulled her close, uncaring of prying eyes. I cared for nothing else, so why should that have mattered.
“Come here Princess,” she corrected, pressing hidden curves against my body.
If I could have remembered what happiness felt like, then that moment would have come close, her demure eyelash batting only adding to the allure.
“Beautiful, is it not, Jean?”
“Not as beautiful as you,” I said and leaned out over the balustrade. The red waters of the Danube looped their turgid way around the palace perimeter forming a natural barrier to uninvited guests. That was the exact purpose of their design. Nature had never had a say in it.
“Shall we?” Chantelle purred, as the reinvigorated orchestra drew my attention back from the river. There was only one kind of music for such occasions: Strauss.
We waltzed in slow circles to the ironic notes of the Blue Danube. I doubted the composer would have generated the same response to his masterpiece if titled red. A searchlight moon shone down from amongst a twinkling eternity, as we twirled across the polished, ebony floor. Could there have been anything better? I very much doubted it. Just because one was dead did not preclude them from appreciating the finer things in life.
I'd been experiencing the best of life for the last five hundred or so years and unlike some, I'd enjoyed every second. What was there not to have liked? To have wined and dined with those of undeniable breeding, shared tailors with kings and queens, walked along gothic promenades without fear, that was the life, or death, I'd dreamed of. I'd never missed the sunlight and felt it terribly overrated. The sun had given such a false sense of wellbeing to the living. Only in the crystal clarity of a sparkling moon did the true reality of an object shine. The snake was not a slithering, ugly beast, but a sensual, seductive coil of a creature. The bat far outshone the bird for it required none of the adulation that the avian so craved. And the wolf, ah, the wolf, what could one say? To see the grey wolves of old backlit by a hunter's moon was a thing of surreal majesty. In a world of sculpted pleasures; toned to compliment the night; crafted for exuberance, I had walked unhindered. Who was I trying to convince, I hated it all! How I envied the wolves their freedom the one thing I would never possess.
“Shall we remain out here under the stars, Monsieur?”
The beautiful French accent of my partner snapped me from my musings.
“Tell me, Jean, what is your wish?”
“To be with you.”
“You can be with me anytime, but in this moment only once.”
“I can close my eyes and imagine this moment anytime I require.”
“That is not the same thing and you know it,” she berated. Another batting of those dark lashes caused a brief disturbance in her sparkling, amethyst eyes.
“No, probably not, but I shall still enjoy doing so.”
She tilted her head to one side as if it helped her think. “You know, Jean,” she whispered. “With your long, dark hair and those brooding, black eyes, you really are to die for.” Chantelle flicked her hair back and grinned, her elegant, porcelain neck beckoning.
It was a momentary thing, an uncontrollable urge, as I plunged dagger fangs into flesh, and sucked, and savoured, and drank.
How long I sated, I did not know, but it was too long. By the time I'd finished, the metallic tang of her blood saturated my tongue, and she was gone. I had taken her past the point of no return where Eternal lust and immortality merged. My lapse shattered the one sacrosanct law of Eternal life, the original sin, the forbidden link to a shameful past: I'd killed Princess Chantelle of The New Europa Alliance, sole daughter of King Rudolph and for the first time in an age, panicked!
As a rule, I was quite unflappable, after all, what was there to get in a flap about when you were already dead? But killing a princess certainly qualified. So, I kept on dancing, holding Chantelle close, and edged my way past the double doors to the balcony's edge. Twisting our conjoined forms around, I surveyed the merriment within the ballroom: revellers swayed to the orchestration ignorant of all but themselves. A smirk escaped the confines of my lips. Once sure of our privacy, I leapt the rails with my burden. It was a drop of about thirty feet, nothing to such as I, and quickly made my way to the tree-lined riverbank. Clutching Chantelle tight, as a lover might, I again made certain of our solitude. Where my Eternal eyes could not see my senses, scent and hearing, took charge. They all confirmed that there was nobody present but me and my corpse. I waited for an opportune cloud to obscure the moon and then flung her departed form far into the claret waters. Chantelle's limp form hit the surface with an undignified plop, and then slipped away in stages, her raven hair the last to depart as kelp in a wavering sea. I'd have liked to say I was sorry to see her go, but to be honest, I was at best indifferent.