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Through the cemetery...

London. 1850.

The grandfather clock on the first floor ticked loudly as Pamela Ravenscroft glided down the main hallway of the mansion’s second story. She was good at being quiet, at disappearing into corners or behind curtains when it suited her. Lately, however, she hardly needed to tiptoe around her parents, for they barely remembered she was there. She didn’t mind. It made stealing away in the middle of the night much easier.

Pamela glanced briefly behind her, down the darkened corridor, toward her parents’ bedchambers. The heavy French doors loomed in the distance. She knew, though, that the doors were firmly locked and that James and Lenore Ravenscroft were practically a world away. The risk of being caught was very slim. She’d only been caught once and that—that mistake would not be repeated.

She moved past the room that once served as the nursery and the clock chimed once.

“Hickety-dickety-dock,” Pamela murmured with a small, almost twisted smile.

The nursery was now a ghost of a room – no more toys, just pieces of furniture—a couch, a lamp, some bookshelves. As children, Pamela and Melody spent hours in the room playing, completing their lessons. When they outgrew it and the toys were put in the attic, they returned out of habit, lounging on the couch telling each other stories, sharing gossip about their circle of friends. No one had entered the room in ten months.

Pamela closed her eyes. “The clock struck one…” She was assaulted by a memory—Melody as a four-year old, making hand motions to go with the rhyme-- “The mouse ran down...”-- five and a half year old Pamela joining her, their voices carrying out of the room -- “Hickety-dickety-dock!”

“Indoor voices, girls,” Lenore said as she looked in on the two little girls, their blond heads bobbing with excitement as they ran around. The girls responded by flying into shrieks of giggles. Lenore turned her anger to the oldest, a tradition that would continue into adolescence and adulthood. “Pamela!”

The present-day Pamela—nineteen, hair still pale yellow, cheeks like a cherub’s, but not anywhere near as innocent—gasped audibly and her eyes flew open. She’d heard her mother’s voice as if the woman stood right there. No one was there, of course. The memory had consumed her for a moment – that was all.

It was enough to propel her down the stairs and out through one of the servants’ exits, with haste. When she reached the street, Pamela slowed down. Though the hour was late, the air was thick with humidity. She was glad she’d worn a lightweight evening dress and no coat of any kind. The temptation to wear only her nightdress initially crossed her mind, but she settled on the low-cut cotton gown instead. It was one she altered herself and was strictly forbidden from wearing outside the house. She tried once and her father went mad. His daughter would not roam the streets of London looking like a common whore. It was bad enough she traipsed around the cemetery at night, bad enough she had no morals, was determined to ruin them all, but damned if he would let her flaunt it.

And then—Pamela’s breath caught in her throat, her mind too preoccupied to notice she was being followed---and then a week later, Melody was dead and she was to blame. No. No she was not. It was not the wrath of God that killed her sister. It was not punishment for the séances and the games of hypnotism that they’d played in the cemetery. She, Pamela, had not delivered her sister into the hands of Satan himself. She knew that to be true, no matter what her parents said or believed.

It was cholera, not the Devil, which killed Melody Ravenscroft. Even so, Pamela was cast aside. The only comfort she had came not from her own parents or from her younger brother, who was too young to understand most of what was going on, but from the Wilshires.

Charlotte and Camilla Wilshire were neighbors, twins who Pamela and Melody ran around with since childhood. They were the ones who cried with her, who promised it would be all right, and who, perhaps most importantly, encouraged her to continue giving attention to their cousin, Matthew Benning.

Matthew was yet another source of her father’s ire, another forbidden from. His parents were not wealthy. They lived in Grace Church where they kept a shop. It was a decent living, but not for a Ravenscroft. Now, though, she was hardly her father’s daughter. She would take up with Matthew, a daring, yet kindhearted and certainly dashing young man, consequences be damned. They would elope. They would—do whatever they wanted. Yes.

Pamela crossed the street and darted into the cemetery. Skipping past headstones—alone, very late at night in the shadows of a large city—as a shortcut might have bothered some, but she enjoyed it. She was nearly at the edge of the graveyard, passing one of the larger monuments – an ornate and hulking angel statue – when she felt a chill, saw a shadow fall close to her.

“Hello, Pamela.” The figure was directly behind her, his voice soft and his hand at her throat.

She took in a breath, but it was not a gasp of terror. Perhaps she should have been ashamed, but what Pamela Ravenscroft most felt at that moment was a thrill coursing through her body.

Eric Northman felt and saw her reaction—in the way she did not scream or flee or overly tense up—and knew he was making the right choice.

As his fangs sunk into her neck and he began draining the blood from her body, Pamela was struck with sudden clarity. What was happening to her was the stuff of make-believe, of dreams, of nightmares. She might die, at the hands of a vampire or of someone doing a very good job of pretending to be one. If she was lucky, she would wake up. When she woke up, nothing would be the same. Either way, she would be free.



mischievous brow raise
Pam Ravenscroft

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