From award-winning British fantasy author Freda Warrington, A Taste of Blood Wine (Titan Books, May 2013) is the first novel of a gothic vampire melodrama.
To celebrate the return of the critically acclaimed Blood Books in collectable paperback and e-book edition, Titan Books and Freda Warrington are serialising two rare and risqué stories set within the universe of the Blood Books across a series of websites and blogs.
We’re publishing the fifth part of a short story, And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire. Read the rest of the tale here: http://titanbooks.com/blog/freda-warringtons-blood-wine-tour/And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire: Part 5
by Freda Warrington
She touched Violette.
Safe in my parked car, Ruth spills it all out. ‘ You have to know the truth, Sarah,’ so apologetic – as if she’s doing me a favour, while plainly relishing every moment of the scandal. Calm at last, she even starts making little jokes about it. ‘What a night! (Oh, Mark must never know, right?) Wow, what a kick.’
She doesn’t notice my silence, my knuckles turning white on the steering wheel. Ruth of all people – with her perfect career, perfect marriage – Ruth has had what I’ve only dreamed of. Violette’s attention, her desire, her yearning, her body, her pleasure and anguish. And it meant nothing to her. Just as she didn’t truly see Violette, she doesn’t see me either.
I feel like telling my sister the simple truth. When she bit you, it was me who felt it. When she realised she couldn’t love you, those were my tears that fell.
But I can’t speak and suddenly she’s getting out of the car again. ‘I’m acting crazy,’ says Ruth, fishing in her bag. ‘I can handle this. I’m going to go right back in there and give Violette her shirt back.’
Daylight couldn’t burn Violette’s skin any more than it could burn limestone. In morning splendour the lobby was palatial, so bright it hurt the eyes. Fresh white lilies on plinths filled the air with fragrance. Violette walked dazed through the brightness; paused by a sofa and watched a housekeeper clearing last night’s wreckage; the unlabelled bottle of thick green glass and the empty glasses. For the pleasure of immortals, indeed.
Looking up, she started. Ruth was standing in front of her. Ruth, not Robyn.
‘Oh, you started blinking again,’ said Ruth. ‘That’s good, right? I realised I…’
She held out a purple scrap. Violette took it and whispered, ‘Thank you.’
Ruth ducked her head nervously. ‘I’m sorry I ran out. I panicked.’
Violette tried to smile. She knew her smiles looked cold, however warmly she meant them. ‘Your sister will have to tear down her shrine.’
‘Oh, god.’ Ruth lowered her eyes.
‘This is all my fault. I should have warned you, I’m quite mad.’
‘Just a little drunk, both of us.’ The woman sighed. Their eyes met briefly, awkwardly. ‘I wanted to say… it was weird and wonderful, and no hard feelings?’
Violette nodded. Turning to go, Ruth added, ‘I hope you find her. Whoever it is you’re looking for.’
Light dawns. It didn’t happen to make me jealous. No, Ruth was there to become my bridge. My only chance.
As I said, I’ve never tried to meet Violette. I know I could never be anything to her. Just another obsessed fan. I know that.
But in my own mind I’m something special. I’m her archivist. I’m the one who knows what she really is: Lilith, the immortal Death Lily. Perhaps this knowledge makes me dangerous.
I climb out of the car. Sunlight cascades down the tall glass doors of the hotel. There are two veils of glass between me and Violette and I can’t see her, can only see my own small reflection, sliding off the door as it hisses open for me like stage curtains. Then the last veil parts and I’m breathing the same air as her. The foyer is a softly shining theatre centred around its star and she’s there, in all her magnificence. Snowy skin, raven hair; a poised figure, exotic even in jeans; more petite than I expected. My fate.
My sister is stepping away from her. I hardly notice. I am thinking, Violette fell. She’s not perfect after all. Her wings caught fire and she fell. Do I love her more for that, or is she tainted – no longer above me? I have to know.
The air is white with fire. I walk steadily towards her. Violette glances up and, with those brilliant uncompromising magisterial eyes, she watches me coming.
The first book in Freda Warrington’s Blood Books series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is out now from Titan Books, £7.99. Read the rest of the short story, And Their Blood Will Be Prescient to Fire, here: http://titanbooks.com/blog/freda-warringtons-blood-wine-tour/
© Freda Warrington