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Authors: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

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BOOK: Hotel Transylvania
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"Yes... no... I don't know." She did not look at him, afraid that there might be too much compassion in his eyes, and she might betray herself to him. "I know I am expected to marry, and in time I shall grow bored enough and frightened enough that I will." She looked back over her shoulder at the older group of riders. "See where all the women ride, Comte, even the young women? They are old already." She wrenched her eyes away. "In time, I will be like them and think even of you with cynical amusement." "Madelaine."

"Do not speak to me in that kind way. I cannot abide it. You give me hope and there is no hope." She dug her spur into her mare's flank, and swayed gracefully as her mount bounded ahead.

Saint-Germain rode after her, close enough to catch her if the mare should bolt in earnest, but far enough back so that she could pretend she did not know he was there.

 

 

Excerpt from a letter from the physician André Schoen-brun to le Comte de Saint-Germain, dated October 12,1743:

 

...The physician wishes to assure le Comte that whatever mobility is left in the knees must come from the prompt and expert care that was rendered to the man Hercule. At least movement will be retained in the knees, although it may not be possible for him to walk again. The physician is pleased that le Comte did not order the knees bandaged, as that is what saved the mobility. The manservant accompanying the patient informed the physician that it was le Comte who gave instructions to leave the knees unbandaged, and the physician commends him.

In regard to le Comte's inquiry about work. So long as the man Hercule does not put any weight on his legs, there is no reason he cannot leave his bed as soon as he is fit. His fever has broken, so it should not be long before such gentle exercise as can be done with arms and hands might be undertaken. The physician understands that le Comte is in possession of syrup of poppies, and recommends the administration of such to the man Hercule for pain if that pain is too severe. But the physician warns le Comte not to use it too often, and prays le Comte to remember that the physician has observed that the prolonged use of such medication can result in dependence upon it, which is not desirable.

The physician will take the liberty of calling upon le Comte in ten days ' time to examine the man Hercule and see that no infection has arisen, and to satisfy himself that recovery is progressing. If the physician finds it advisable, he will bleed the man Hercule at that time.

If he can be of service to le Comte again, the physician assures him that he would be honored to serve le Comte's household at any time.

Believe me to be yours to command,

André Schoenbrun, physician
 

la Rue de Ecoulè-Romain

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

Lucienne Cressie regarded the darkening room through glazed, exhausted eyes. Nothing looked familiar, though she had slept in this room almost every night since her marriage to Achille. From the heavy draperies around her bed to the tall, gilt-wood chests against the far wall, it was all as foreign to her as the fittings of the private quarters of a Chinese emperor would be.

Her husband had been with her some time ago. She was not clear in her mind how much time had passed since he had left, for the wine he had given her must surely have been drugged. She moved weakly, and felt a creeping sickness in her body.

She grasped at the sheets as if she were drowning, wondering what would become of her. Each day she told herself that she could sustain her travesty of a marriage a little while longer, but at night, alone with nothing but dreams to possess her, she felt her courage eroding. At those moments, even prayer did not help her, and that, more than anything else, frightened her.

Now her eyes filled with tears as she thought about the few moments Achille had given to her, his disdain for her suffering, his callous indifference to her pleadings. She had begged him tonight to let her enter a convent. She was even willing to disappear, perhaps to the New World, so that he would not be troubled with her in any way again. He had laughed, saying that if she wished to devote herself to religion, he would take care to give her the opportunity she wanted. He had locked her in the room, as he had the day before.

She had played her new violoncello for a time, but found little consolation in its music, and her mind wandered as the drug took possession of her mind.

Now she lay on the bed, and felt her resistance give way. Achille was planning something for tonight, she knew. The night before, she had listened well into the early hours while Achille and his cronies talked in the library below. There had been sounds like chanting, and, much later, cries and comments that told her the men were enacting what her husband called the Rites of Athens. She closed her eyes and tried to compose her thoughts for prayer.

Dizziness overcame her, and she opened her eyes again in the vain hope that the images would come to rest. Her head ached abominably, and her ears rang.

The room seemed much darker now, and she thought perhaps she had slept, or was still sleeping. When she could not bring the tassles of the canopy that hung at the foot of her bed into focus, she turned her head to the wall. As she stared at the thick folds of the bed hangings, she thought that the cloth moved. She tried to turn away, and found that she could not.

His eyes were warm, very warm and hungry.

It was the dream again, and this time she felt herself move toward the image, shameful joy in her heart. She recognized the guilt of her passion, and surrendered to it, to his warm, insistent mouth, now on her lips, now on her throat.

His hands caressed her with a touch as light as gossamer, and full of fire. She could feel his weight beside her, and welcomed it, almost weeping as she drew him toward her.

In some remote part of her mind, she wondered if Achille had sent him to her as a terrible jest, but she could not imagine how even Achille could send a dream.

She felt herself warm and cold at once, and she strained to hold him nearer to her. His touch was gentle, expert, and drew her out of herself. There was a single sharp moment of pain, but it was followed so swiftly by ecstatic languor that it served only to punctuate her rapture. She was drifting, drifting, as insubstantial as music. The warm throb of her violoncello between her legs was nothing compared to this sweet, shining dream that fired her very veins with delight. This splendidly ravished sleep bore her as if on wings, or the wind. She felt her heart open as a flower opens, and slipped away into deep, silent slumber. There was no weight beside her, and the delicious thrumming of her blood subsided to that gentle tide of rest.

It was cold in the room when she woke, and the tumbled bedclothes gave her no protection and little warmth. She was cold, and now that the effect of the drug had dissipated, she felt numb and exhausted.

Guilt assaulted her as well. She knew that such dreams were as deep a sin as the act itself, for she who had committed adultery in her heart was an unfaithful wife in the eyes of Holy Church. Her Confessor had told her this was so, and without exception, for adultery was lust, and lust was one of the Seven Deadly Sins. She crossed herself, feeling hypocritical, and pulled the covers about her, shame coloring her face.

The prayers would not come. In vain she tried to fix her thoughts on heavenly things, and each time, she was pulled back to the blissful dream, and the delirious sensuality that it brought, the dream where her body sang a sacrament all its own that the austere example of the saints and martyrs could not dispel.

Her mind was still divided when die door opened and to her amazement, her husband came in. "Good morning, Madame. I trust I do not disturb you?" His mocking eyes saw her dishevelment as evidence of the drug's efficacy.

"Achille?" she asked, feeling a cold of another kind rise in her. She gathered the bedclothes around her in response to the disgust she saw in his face.

He walked toward her bed. "Come, Madame, come. We have guests belowstairs. It would be remiss of you not to put in an appearance to greet them." He held out his hand to her, and there was an implacability about him. This was not another one of his cruel jokes. This was another matter entirely. "Come, Madame," he repeated.

She frowned. "I am not dressed, Achille. Do you seek to make a mockery of your wife?" She hoped fervently that was all he had planned. "Can you not leave me be?"

"These are your guests, Madame. They are in your home. It would be rude of you not to join us when they have expressly asked for you." He reached for her negligee and tossed it to her. "This is appropriate enough, wife. Put it on and come with me."

Even as she started to obey, some sense in her brought her attention into sharp focus. She knew that there was something terribly wrong, and that Achille was not here for her protection. At the least, humiliation awaited her; at the worst, she dared not guess.

"Do not delay," he ordered her, his face becoming ugly as harsh lines set in it. "The hour is almost past."

"No," she said, backing away from him. She did not know what the hour meant, but she knew now that there was danger and that her husband was leading her into it. "Go away, Achille. I am not well. Please excuse me to your guests."

"They are
our
guests," he said with thinly disguised irritation. "You must come down. Saint Sebastien particularly wants to make your acquaintance." He pointed to the negligee. "Put it on, Madame. I will not wait any longer for you."

She shook her head. "No."

He stared across the room at her, his fists clenching at his sides. Then, with an effort, he walked toward her. "You are my wife. You will do as I say."

Lucienne Cressie had been frightened by Achille before, but she had never felt terror of the sort that raced through her now. She pulled pillows from the bed and threw them as he came nearer, knowing that this was trivial in the face of his rage. There was a heavy glass perfume jar on the stand by her bed, and she threw that, too.

Achille stumbled under the impact of the jar as it glanced off his brow, and swayed for a moment on his feet, his mouth working. Then he lunged at his wife.

Without any hesitation, La Cressie pulled open the window behind her. It was a two-story drop to the garden, and she knew this. Before Achille could grab her, she threw herself out, feeling the night air cold on her body as she fell.

She realized she had been stunned, because she could hear many voices in the house, now that her mind had cleared. She was not dead. She tested her arms, and found that one of her shoulders was dislocated. She had not felt the pain until she tried to move it, and then it struck her with a hammer blow. Inconsequently the thought came to her that she could not play the violencello with her shoulder thus. She would have to get help, and care.

She heard voices grow nearer, and in the gloom there was a lantern shine. Now she cursed herself for failing in her attempt at death. She knew for her soul's sake she should repent. She was aware that she ought to thank God for sparing her so that she could make expiation for her sins, for the lust in her flesh, and for her attempted suicide. But the sound of the footsteps was growing louder, and she wished from her heart that she had died.

"We have found her," said a voice she did not recognize, and she looked up to see a tall, thin man of perhaps sixty years, dressed in the height of fashion. His gray-green eyes were hooded, almost reptilian, and the smile he wore was more frightening than anger would have been.

Behind him came another, older man whose outlandish clothes identified him as Baron Beauvrai, who addressed the man beside him. "Damme, but you get the luck, Clotaire. She's yours for the sacrifice, then."

Clotaire de Saint Sebastien chuckled once, and Luci- enne's mouth grew dry at the sound of it. "She can be of use to me, at least, I suppose. We must be sure she is still a virgin. Have Achille and his friend bring her into the library." He knelt beside Lucienne, and ignoring her protests and shock, thrust his hand between her legs.

"No, no, no," she whispered, and tightened her legs.

"Madame," Saint Sebastien said coolly, "do not attempt to impede me. I warn you now that I will not tolerate that."

She started to speak, and struggled against his probing hand. He sighed, and his fingers touched her painfully, intimately. Her head swam, and her legs closed again involuntarily. The pain he gave her this time welled up, cutting through the earlier, duller pain of her fall.

Saint Sebastien stood up. "Good, she is intact. How many of the Circle will take her?" If he saw the horror in Lucienne Cressie's face, he paid no attention to it.

Beauvrai looked hungrily at the woman on the ground.

"A nice piece of flesh. It is a shame to have wasted her on one such as Achille."

Saint Sebastien corrected him. "She will not be wasted. For our purposes, we must be glad that Achille prefers men."

"No," Lucienne said, "No. No. No. No. No. No."

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