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15 Trouble in the Garden

Tilla led Anastasia to the garden that was outside of the ballroom. A few torches were being lit up in the garden as well. But the beautiful silvery light cascading from the moon was overshadowing the brightness from the sparse torches.

Anastasia was amazed to see that this haunted castle had a beautiful garden that was actually well-maintained. It even had flowers that she had never seen before.

She excitedly touched an orange flower with some hues of blue and green. It looked as though it was a bird that was spreading its wings and was ready to fly. And she whispered, “I wonder what this flower is called. It looks really interesting.”

Tilla smiled and answered, “I learned from Lord Vincent that it’s called the bird of paradise.”

The two of them walked deeper into the garden while appreciating the beautiful and eye-catchy flowers. The burning sensation that Anastasia was feeling calmed down to some extent.

Anastasia finally saw the fountain that Tilla was talking about. The fountain had the sculpture of a mermaid holding a water pot in her hands. And a silver stream of water was flowing down from that pot.

The scenery was so captivating that Anastasia forgot the reason why she brought Tilla outside. ‘This garden is so mesmerizing. I should come here often,’ she took a mental note while her eyes wandered around.

Suddenly, Tilla felt a gust of wind blowing her hair. She jerked out of her daze and looked around to see that the two of them were alone in the garden. The garden that she had found beautiful when she came with Vincent now became unnerving all of a sudden.

Tilla realized her mistake and hurriedly spoke in a worried tone, “Princess, let’s go back inside. I don’t think we should be out here when everyone else is inside. Some vampire with bad intention might sneak upon us.”

.....

When Tilla said the last phrase, Anastasia finally recalled what she had wanted to say earlier. And she wanted to say it before they went back inside.

She held Tilla’s hands and then she said in a serious note, “Tilla, as you said, we shouldn’t be falling for these vampires’ sweet talks and their handsome faces. I know how irresistible they can be at times. When they smile at you, you feel your heart melting away. Your body automatically surrenders to them.”

Tilla gave a nervous chuckle and asked, “Your Highness, why are you saying all this to me?”

“Because I can tell that the vampire called Vincent has already swooned you over. That is what they do, Tilla...” Anastasia’s face showed a hint of discontent, not towards Tilla but towards herself. It was as if she was saying all those things to herself rather than to Tilla.

The Princess tightened her hold of Tilla palms and continued, “They lure you in with their sweet talks or pressure you with their threats. And ultimately, they turn you into their food. You should always remember that, to them, you are nothing more than a living bag of blood.”

The Princess’ words were scaring Tilla even more. “I promise that I won’t be affected by their charm.” And she said with a sense of urgency, “Now, let’s go back inside, Princess. We cannot be roaming around like this in the dark.”

Anastasia had dragged Tilla in a whim and she also knew that they were in the wrong place, considering how far they had come from the bustling ballroom. “Okay, let’s go back.” Anastasia let go of Tilla’s palms and held one of her arms instead.

After they started to head for the ballroom, Anastasia sighed and said in a tired voice, “Ugh! When is this ball going to be over? I’m already tired. And I can’t even breathe properly because of this bodice.”

“Hopefully, it will be over soon. I cannot wait for all the vampires to return to wherever they came from. We already have enough vampires in the castle.” Tilla was cautiously looking around and was making the Princess walk very fast.

Both the ladies felt a gust of wind pass by again.

Anastasia stiffened her shoulders because of the cold. “It’s quite breezy today, isn’t it?”

Before Tilla could answer the Princess, they found themselves in the presence of someone else.

“Did someone just compliment me saying that I was the breeze? Glad to know that I’m fast for human eyes.” They heard a cheeky voice coming not too far away from them. A tall and dark figure was standing cross-legged under the shadow of an oak tree.

The figure emerged from the shadows to reveal a porcelain face. He had a crooked smile on his face as he advanced towards the ladies.

Though he looked like a noble vampire from how he was dressed, that smile alone was enough to give chills to the ladies. Tilla held the Princess’ arm tightly because she could tell that they were going to get in trouble. She wanted to make a run towards the ballroom but that man was already standing in front of them.

Tilla gave a gentle bow to that man and tried to go around that man.

But that man shifted to the side and blocked their way. “Why are the beautiful ladies like yourselves unaccompanied? It is unfair that no one is appreciating two of the most beautiful fairies strolling in this garden.”

Tilla took the initiative to give a witty reply, hoping that man would leave them alone, “We were here for some fresh air, milord. Now, I have to escort Her Highness to the ballroom or else His Majesty will come here searching for her.” She bowed again and said, “If you will excuse us...”

But he spread his arms, blocking their way, and inhaled the cold air. He looked at Tilla with his glowing red eyes and smirked. “Oh, what’s the hurry, darling?” He shifted his hawk-like eyes on Anastasia and spoke in a teasing whisper, “I’m sure His Majesty won’t mind if I entertain both of you for a while.”

“The night is still young after all.” He gave a whimsical smirk to Anastasia and then swiftly took her palm in his hand.

He leaned down to kiss her on her knuckles. And he ended up giving a wet kiss on her knuckles instead of a peck.

Anastasia’s facial expression changed from scared to that of a disgusted one. She was so frozen that she could not even pull her hand away from that pervert.

That man kept on gripping the Princess’ hand while gawking at her. And he tried to rile up the Princess against the King, “I saw His Majesty dancing with other ladies. What is His Majesty doing with the other ladies when you have looks to die for?”

He let out a grim chuckle seeing the Princess frozen like a statue. He pulled Anastasia’s hand away from Tilla’s hold and teasingly asked the Princess, “Why don’t you run away with me, pretty bird? I promise that I won’t even look at any other woman except you.”

While he was saying those cheesy lines, his sharp gaze was stuck on Anastasia’s neck, making both of the ladies scared to their core.

Anastasia’s heart was already out of control. She could see the same hunger in his eyes as she had already seen in a few vampires by now.

She forcibly pulled her hands away from his grip and finally found her voice, “I’m afraid we have to leave. My husband won’t like it if I stay out for too long.” She glanced to her side and ordered her handmaid, “Tilla, come. We are leaving.”

Anastasia grabbed Tilla’s hand and began to sprint away from that sick vampire.

But that vampire caught up to the ladies in the blink of an eye and pulled Anastasia.

The Princess’ back slammed against that vampire’s cold frame. An exasperated gasp escaped her trembling lips.

“Let me go, you monster!” Anastasia elbowed that man in the gut and tried to run again.

But he wrapped Anastasia in his arms while shouting in an irritated voice, “You cannot get away from me that easily, Princess. Not without letting me taste your blood.”

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