The Deal by wizardtho
There he goes calling me sweet again. Must be how my blood smells.
I looked up slowly, and when my eyes met his, my breathing hitched slightly. The colors in his eyes were swirling. He was devastatingly handsome, but I tried not to become aroused by the way he was looking at me. He finally said after a long moment, “When you first opened the door, I saw the rarest beauty. I have been on this earth for over 1000 years, Makenna, yet have rarely found anyone with as much natural beauty as you have. Then you invited me in, and asked right away if there was anything you could get for me. Your manners are impeccable. That is even more rare these days. Your father's actions -when he bruised your delicate skin- made me quite angry. There was no reason for him to have grabbed you in such a manner, and I could have scented your fear at his actions for over a mile in any direction, in just those few seconds.”
He took a breath to calm himself, most likely, then continued. “You knew just as soon as he called me a vampire, that he had done something. You are intuitive, Makenna, and a quick thinker. You knew your father had gathered the required payment before he went gambling that day, without him ever eluding to it. What angered me the most, was that he chose to leave you alone, on the one day that even a stranger would realise you needed his presence the most. Yes, your blood does smell intoxicating, but that was only a small factor in why I chose to remove you from your father's home. I chose to remove you from his care because you intrigue me quite thoroughly, and because I disliked not seeing the beautiful light in your eyes that I saw in the picture your father showed me a year ago.”
I was dumbfounded. He seemed to be sincere in his words, but then I remembered the new rules. His words crashed down on me like a tidal wave. I turned my head away, but couldn't stop the words from leaving my lips in a monotone whisper. “Keeping me locked away and guarded 24/7 is no way to bring out a happy light in my eyes, Mr. Cooper. You dictating what I can and can not wear, telling me where I can and can not go, along with all your other rules... they just prove I have no will of my own anymore. I'm your property... your $65,000 slave... and that's it. That's no way to bring out any light you may have seen in my eyes in a picture, Sir.”
I expected him to get angry with me. I expected him to refute what I was saying. I expected so many different things, but the brief flash of pain on Mr. Cooper's face was not one of them. It cleared quickly, then he returned his attention to his phone. A small -very minute- part of me ached to wash away that look, but the bigger part of me felt like his silence afterward spoke volumes. He didn't try to tell me I was wrong, or explain different reasons behind his rules... just returned to doing something on his phone like I wasn't there.
My assessment was accurate after all. I was a slave... a piece of property to a vampire.
I lost myself in my thoughts again, staring blankly out the window, until I heard Mr. Cooper's voice. “Yes, Audrey. Take Makenna's things up to her room, and I will be along with her shortly. Please fix her something substantial for dinner, as I believe Keith will tell me that she is underweight. She has apparently been eating wild-caught fish for dinner more than anything else, out of necessity. She has certainly lost several pounds within the last year, yet she was petite to begin with.”
I heard a female replying, “Of course, Jackson. Let me know if you need anything else. Her room is prepared, as you requested, and I'll lay her things on the bed for you.”
Was that the housekeeper? If so, why did she call him Jackson instead of Mr. Cooper?
I didn't have time to dwell on my thoughts, because in the next second, Mr. Cooper was -surprisingly gently- pulling me out of the car and guiding me into what looked like a mini castle. He seemed to be pointing out which room was which as we passed, but my mind went into a fog as soon as his delicious scent registered. I was unable to concentrate on what he was saying.
When we came to a door on the second floor, his hand left the place it had been on my back to guide me, and he stepped far enough away for my brain to clear. He turned to me as he said softly, “I hope this room is to your liking.”
He opened the door, then stepped aside and held out his hand in a gesture for me to enter. I have no idea what I thought I would see, but it surely wasn't the lavish suite I was looking at. My breath hitched as I stood stock still taking everything in, and I suddenly felt very underdressed. I tried to hide it, but I couldn't help trying to smooth out the wrinkles in my dress that had formed during the drive.
Mr. Cooper noticed immediately, of course, asking, “Is everything to your liking?”
I bit my lip and nodded, then said quietly as I looked to the floor, “Yes, Sir. Thank you, it's truly beautiful.”
The corners of his lips twitched up slightly in a smile, then he said, “I'm glad you like it.”
His features smoothed, then he sighed softly. “Whether you believe me or not, Makenna, I want you to feel at home here. I am not trying to keep you as a slave. Yes, you have rules to abide by here, but they are to keep you safe. I have 670 acres of land. You could get hurt wandering alone, since there are wild animals in the forest. Answering the phone every time I call lets me know that when you don't answer, you are in danger, and I need to seek you out quickly. The life of a vampire is sometimes dangerous; I would not want to see you hurt by an enemy of mine. The clothing situation is because, as you can see, I have a lavish home. Most vampires do, for that matter. For one, I do not want you to feel out of place in your surroundings, and two, I host vampire gatherings from time to time. You will need appropriate attire to attend them at my side, as well as to accompany me to such gatherings that others host.”
I was listening, now that he was actually explaining something. I nodded for him to continue, so he said seriously, “Yes, sometimes other vampires will keep willing humans as donors, but I have never once had a live-in donor. I personally see it as distasteful. Would I like to taste you? Certainly... more than you could possibly fathom... but that is not your purpose here, and I will never force you to give your blood to me. As for the doctor seeing you, do you not need regular checkups and physicals? Your health is of importance to me. That is not the reason why your meals will be prepared for you, though. I was being selfish, hoping you would spend time with me if you weren't spending most of your time in the kitchen, planning and cooking your own meals. As I said before... you intrigue me. I would like to know more about you.”
What twilight zone had I landed in. Vampires were not said to be kind creatures. Hell, taking me from my father's home to settle a debt was proof of that, wasn't it? Granted, it was kinder than the alternative, but still. I had been uprooted from my whole life, only to be plopped down in an unknown world with no warning. I had not been able to say goodbye to my friends, barely had time to say goodbye to my father, and I was positive there was no way of graduating now. I didn't dare ask about school, though, because what was the use, when I was stuck here. It's not like he would let me leave everyday to go to school.
I didn't want to make him angry, so I softly offered a compromise on the clothing. “Sir? I have a few nicer dresses that my mother bought me for parties, similar to this one. May I keep those to wear as day dresses for around the house... and a few sentimental outfits that I'll just keep and promise not to wear outside of my room?” Mr. Cooper took a look into my eyes, then nodded in agreement, “Yes, I think that would work. I would like to see the dresses you are keeping to wear, though.”
I turned immediately and opened one of the suitcases lying at the end of my bed. I pulled out my red halter dress with the white flowers and see-thru red netting at the bottom, my blush pink and sky blue spaghetti strap maxi dress with the empire waist, my purple dress with the ruffled bodice and asymmetrical hem, my silky black one-shoulder dress with the pink flowers, and the black dress I bought for my mother's funeral that had a scooping neckline in front and a low back. I laid them out on the bed for his approval, then went into my duffle bag to out the matching pair of shoes for each dress, making sure to place them above each one.
When I was finished, I carefully looked up to Mr. Cooper. He was silent, so I asked softly, “Do they meet your approval, Sir?”
He looked at each outfit, then said, “It seems you are well versed in how to walk in higher heels?”
I nodded, “My mother taught me, Sir... before her sickness became too much on her.” He gave a short hum, then said, “The dresses you chose are quite suitable. You will feel comfortable in them here, I believe. May I see the others you've brought?”
I nodded slightly and waved my hand at my suitcases, then he slowly started looking through them. He picked out a few of my gauzy dresses to lay them out, saying, “You may wish to wear these to and from the pool, for when you desire to sun or swim.”
Then he laid out my four crochet waist floor length gauzy skirts. “These are pleasing, also. Please show me the shoes and tops you have for these.”
He stepped back to allow me to reach my cases. I pulled out the six tops that I usually mixed and matched to the skirts, along with the matching shoes to each top. When I stepped back this time, he gave me a small smile, “Approved. If you wish to wear them outside your suite, you may.”
I was stunned that he was allowing me this much to keep, so I stuttered out, “Th-thank you, Sir.”
After looking through the rest of my belongings, he said, “Am I correct in assuming you have not bought any new clothing since your mother's passing?”
I nodded with my eyes on the floor, “Other than a few pairs of shorts, jeans, and the black dress/heels for her funeral, that is correct, Sir.”
He nodded, “You may keep and wear the other outfits for lounging in your suite. Your mother did well for you with the finances your family had. I also noticed you had a few workout outfits. I would rather you not use the exercise room on this floor until after the doctor has seen you. It would not do you well to lose more weight.”
I nodded in understanding, ready to agree to just about anything since he was allowing me to keep all of the clothes that I brought.
After a few seconds of silence, Mr. Cooper spoke again. “The clothes for your suite can be put in the dresser and tall chest in here, along with your workout clothing. There is a tall lingerie chest that your personal items can go into in your wardrobe. Audrey will be up to help you get everything settled. May I ask what is in the train case?”
I smiled softly, then unlocked the train case and opened it for his viewing. “This is what I was given last year...” My smile turned to a slight frown as I remembered, “The morning after your deal with my father was made... for my birthday.”
Mr. Cooper appraised my gift for a few minutes, then said, “I do not wish for you to have an ill opinion of me for removing you from your father's home on your birthday, Sweet Makenna. Please understand that I did not know until you spoke of it with him. The fact that he did not realise that today was your birthday angered me, since all of this could have been put to rest months ago.”
I sniffed back the tears threatening to spill from my eyes. I didn't want to seem weak in front of this man. I nodded at his statement, then said softly, “I don't hold you at fault, Mr. Cooper. My father knew the consequences when he signed the contract, so he is the only one to blame for this. May I still be allowed to keep my journal and supplies?”
He looked at me confused, then said, “Makenna, I would never refuse to let you do something that pleases you, unless it was dangerous to your health, or you were being punished for disobeying my rules. Now... it is getting quite late for me, and I need to retire for the day. Try to get settled in. I will see you at sun down. Remember that the only room off-limits in the house is my bedroom. You are welcome to explore any of the other rooms in the house that you wish. If you have any questions, you can either ask Audrey, or hold them for when I see you at sun down. I will send a snack up with her, for you to enjoy while she helps you settle your belongings.”
I agreed quietly, then he gave me what seemed like a tender smile before turning to leave the room. Just as he started to close the door, I whispered, “Rest well, Mr. Cooper.”
He stopped, but did not turn around as he said, “Have a good day, Sweet Makenna.”
It was only a few minutes before a pretty woman, most likely in her mid-forties, knocked lightly on my door before coming in, calling, “Makenna? My name is Audrey. Jackson told me you were ready to settle in?”
She placed the tray that she brought with her on the low table in my sitting area as I said, “Yes. Mr. Cooper said that the things still left in my suitcases could be put in the dressers for lounging in my suite, and the outfits laid out on the bed were suitable for around the house... except for these few here. Those he told me I might want for going to and from the pool area.”
She smiled gently, then said, “Well, why don't you have a seat. Eat your snack while I'll get started hanging your day clothes. Then we can work on folding and putting your lounge clothes away together.”
Truly, I was grateful for her help, since I had not eaten anything at all yet today. I agreed, sat down in the arm chair, then hummed as I looked at what was there. It was a platter of cut up mixed fruit, with a small bowl of whipped cream on the side, and a large shake of some sort. I took a sip and hummed, “This is delicious, Audrey. It's like those Dairy Queen Blizzards in shake form.”
She chuckled as she laid a bunch of hangers on the bed near my clothing, “Yes, I thought you might like that. I don't know if Jackson has already asked, but I'd like you to give me a list of your favorite foods, along with things you'd like to try.”
I shook my head, “I'm not a picky eater, but I love Italian and Chinese cuisine. Barbecue foods are up on the list, too... like potato salad, coleslaw, and those things.”
I popped a cherry in my mouth as she agreed with me on the barbecue, then she said, “Jackson mentioned that it was your birthday today. Happy birthday.”
I frowned, then said, “It's not shaping up to be happy so far this year. I never thought I would be pretty much sold to a vampire to pay off a debt. I'm sorry, I know that sounds rude... but I was ripped out of the only life I've ever known without warning. There will be no party, no presents, and I'll never get to see my friends again. I won't even get to graduate, not that it makes much difference now.”
Audrey was quiet for a while as I ate my snack. She had already started on my lounge clothing when I finished. As I placed everything back on the tray, Audrey said happily, “Oh, you like sketching?”
I looked up to see her peering into my train case, being careful not to touch anything. I nodded, “Yes, I don't mind if you look. There are several pads filled already. Here.”
I handed her the four sketch pads that were held in the spot under the lid of the case, then she carefully opened the first one. She seemed to be taking in the details of every page. When she closed the first pad, she placed her hand on my shoulder gently, saying, “You have immense talent, Makenna. Do you paint, also?”
I smiled at the image that popped into my head. It was of painting in art class at school. “I didn't really have the money to be able to paint at leisure, so I chose sketching. I did love the times when we would paint in our art class at school, though. Especially when we worked with the water-miscible oil paints. They weren't as harsh smelling as the regular oils, and the clean-up only needed a mild soap and water... none of the dangerous chemicals that were needed with regular oils. The finished paintings dried a lot sooner, too.”
She smiled widely at my enthusiasm, then asked, “Would you paint now, if you had the supplies and somewhere proper to do so?”
I shook my head, “I'd love to... but the paints and brushes that are worth anything are expensive. I couldn't ask for something like that, Audrey. I can't afford to make waves here by asking for frivolous things.”
She gave me a weird look, but nodded slightly and let the subject drop. As we finished putting away all of my dresser clothing, we talked about the house and how long she had been here with Mr. Cooper. I was surprised when she told me that her and her husband were the only other people living on the property. I mean... I know that Mr. Cooper said that he didn't keep live-in donors, but apparently he didn't have a wife or girlfriend, either. His house and grounds keepers were the only ones living here... and they lived in the small cottage. That meant that this whole huge house -almost 13,500 square feet of huge- was completely empty other than Mr. Cooper and myself.
I started having questions about Mr. Cooper himself as the day wore on, and knew that was a bad place for my mind to go. I shouldn't ruffle any feathers while here, yet asking a bunch of questions would likely lead to that quickly. He had said that he would not feed from me without my consent, but I knew that could change with one wrong move on my part. I wasn't about to tempt fate. I would keep my head down, not ask questions, and stay out of his way as much as possible. This was my life now, so I would have to watch my step.
About an hour after lunch, I decided to see about looking for a book in the library. Audrey had mentioned that there was one that was well stocked, so I thought I would find something and lounge outside in the shade near the pool until dinner. I was in awe at the two-story study and library when I found it. The lower level was what looked to be Mr. Cooper's study, while the higher library level was straight down the hallway from my suite. It was striking, filled with many first editions. I found myself lost in discovering all of the titles on the shelves of both levels.
I didn't notice the time slipping away from me, but as I was studying the book titles in the study, I heard a soft voice near my ear, “Find something to peak your interest?”
I gasped and partially turned with my hand still on the spine of the next title, then spluttered, “Oh, no. I'm sorry, Sir. I was just... so entranced... by the library and collection of books you have. I didn't mean to overstep; the time just slipped away from me.”
Mr. Cooper smiled while shaking his head, “You've not overstepped anything, Sweet Makenna. As I said before, the only room off-limits is my personal suite. You are more than welcome to spend as much time as you wish in any other room in the chateau. What have you found?”
I looked back to the book that my hand was on, then my breathing hitched as I read the title. I blushed furiously at figuring out it was the Kama Sutra, only to stutter in reply, “Umm... no-nothing, Sir. Just the next title that I was finding out the name for. That's how I've apparently let the afternoon slip by me.”
He peered around my shoulder, then chuckled before brushing the back of his fingers across my cheek, “Nothing to be embarrassed about, Sweet Makenna. The Kama Sutra is a very enlightening read, and you are more than welcome to it.”
I involuntarily blushed even deeper as my eyes sought the floor, then said, “I don't think... I believe that I'll stick to something a little tamer, Sir.”
He smiled, shook his head slightly, then said, “As for why I came to find you, Audrey says that your dinner will be ready in about ten minutes. I hope you don't mind, but I had her set the table out on the patio for you. It looks like it will be a nice night, and I would like to join you. Afterward, I have a surprise for you. Come, let us go see what was prepared for your dinner, shall we?”