Scientist Joanna Eastman knew better, but she couldn't help her fascination with vampires -- those dangerous creatures who existed only in fantasy, right? Her own extensive research, coupled with dreams so powerful they felt more like memories, drew Joanna to attend a vampire gala ball. Instead of role-playing, faux vamps, she encountered someone who could well be the real thing...and the key to her dreams.
Anton Mahler, one of the true kin -- as vampires call themselves -- has roamed the Earth for centuries, easily conquering vampire and mortal women alike with his dazzling looks and devastating charm. Yet his heart always remained carefully sealed, frozen in time with the loss of his one true love. When Anton stumbled across the lovely Joanna, something resonated deep within him -- a connection so abiding, so pure, he knew somehow his long-lost love had returned.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Crimson Ties by Claire Thompson
Joanna looked around her at the people dressed mostly in red and black, capes swirling, heads thrown back as they laughed over the clinking of glass. She had dressed the part as well, wearing a black velvet gown cut low for cleavage and slit high along one shapely thigh. Red satin piping held the gown over her shoulders, matching her red leather high heels.
Her golden-brown hair, usually pulled back in a ponytail during her workday as a research and development scientist for a pharmaceutical company, was loose, flowing to her shoulders in soft waves. She had large blue-gray eyes, a snub nose and a dimpled chin that jutted out when she was trying to make a point. She was slender but curvaceous, with round, high breasts and an ass that always seemed to get noticed. Usually hidden by a white lab coat, tonight her body was outlined alluringly in the close-cut black velvet. She wore more makeup than usual, adding dramatic eyeliner and bright red lipstick to heighten her persona as Countess Raven, her vampire online screen name.
She scanned the room, looking for a familiar face. This event had been touted on her favorite vampire role-playing website as Crimson Ties Gala Vampire Ball--Come Share the Blood, Come Share the Passion! The hotel ballroom had been decked out to create a lush vampire atmosphere. Sheer red silk had been draped over the walls and ceiling with the lighting angled to give the room an eerie red cast as if spilt blood were shining wetly beneath a white full moon.
Black tapering candles glowed on the little tables set around the center of the ballroom and each table had a vase of budding red roses, their scent almost overpowering. Faces painted and powered white loomed up in the flicker of candlelight. Joanna looked at the array of costumed "players", wondering if any of them really took this stuff seriously.
For some it was simply a delicious, bloody, role-playing game. For others she knew it was a thinly veiled excuse to meet people for kinky online sex and perhaps for the real thing as well. She knew some of her online "friends" lived out actual blood fetish games in person.
She'd been invited to a few blood-play parties but had declined, not because the idea horrified her but because it seemed silly. On some level, perhaps because of her research and her slowly building belief that vampires might not be just the stuff of folklore and fantasy, she was almost insulted by the games. She'd considered signing off the vampire sites altogether but something kept her coming back. Maybe it was loneliness, or maybe it was the closest she could get to her secret dreams and was thus better than nothing.
Joanna probably wouldn't have gone to this party if it hadn't been right in her hometown of Albany, New York. She wasn't usually one for big dances and events such as this, but her online friend Jessica, known in the rooms as Mistress Ivana, planned to go and had convinced her to give it a try.
"It's a great way to meet guys," Jessica had assured Joanna. Joanna had split up with James, her fianc?, two months before, and Jessica told her it was time to consider meeting someone new. Joanna seriously doubted she'd meet anyone worth getting to know at a vampire role-playing ball! Still, it would hopefully be an entertaining way to pass a few hours.
She had discovered the online vampire role-playing sites by accident while researching her favorite nonscientific subject--all things vampire. Since she could remember, Joanna had always had a fascination with the dark creatures of the night, reading all the fiction and folklore she could get her hands on.
Lately she'd begun more serious research into the possibility that these non-mortals actually existed. She'd discovered an amazing archive of previously unreleased documents from Eastern Europe only recently translated into English and available online through a rather expensive subscription but one she had found well worth it.
The documents included detailed information of various vampire sightings over a span of several centuries. Joanna had been able to substantiate the locations of a number of the village and city references as well as finding some corroborating data in the news of the day. Newspaper articles from the turn of the century would sometimes parallel the vampire tales with unexplained deaths from blood loss and stories of noblemen who never seemed to age.
Though intellectually she dismissed the idea of real vampires, something deep within her persisted in its curious search, fueled by testimonials and evidence from around the world.
And then there were her dreams.