Click here for Chapters 1-9
When Count Harecula arrived at St Matthew´s Church he saw with relief that the door to the meeting room was still ajar.
He had been worrying that he would be too late for the ASS-meeting (ASS – Anonymous (Blood-)Suckers) after first getting involved in a bar-fight and then side-stepping into a costume shop in order to cover his black eye with a mask.
As he neared the entrance, he wondered if his Lady was already there.
The meeting room was brightly illuminated and several people were standing around in groups and talking with each other. No sight of his Lady though.
But before he could turn around to wait for her outside, an elderly woman looked at him and then strode in surprisingly quick steps and outstretched hands towards him. She smiled warmly up at him and said:
“Ah – a new face! Welcome to our meeting!”
Count Harecula unsure what to do and slightly overwhelmed by the attention, automatically shook hands with the old woman. When he wanted to withdraw his hand though, the woman didn´t seem to want to let go of it and used their connection to draw him further into the room. Count Harecula who still held the bouquet of red roses he´d brought for his Lady, felt more and more irritated by this behaviour and would have considered hitting the woman with it over the head no matter what her age, if it were not for the fact that he´d ruin the roses by doing so.
So instead he gritted his teeth and let himself be led like a child to a circle of orange plastic chairs.
“Why don´t you take a seat, my dear?” the woman said and pushed him firmly into one of the chairs. Finally she had let go of his squashed hand, and only his pride prevented him from rubbing it.
“Would you like something to drink?” she now wanted to know, still smiling.
“Yes! YOUR BLOOD!” Count Harecula thought with startling fervour that was unknown to him, especially since he didn´t even like human blood. He prefered the fresh green taste of rabbits in that matter.
It was only the sight of HER, now standing in the doorway and searchingly looking around, that kept him from actually saying what he was thinking.
Just as before, her sight simply took his breath away. He would have been happy to just sit here for ever and simply look at her beautiful face.
But the old woman had other plans.
“How about a nice cup of coffee, dear?” she asked.
Count Harecula who also had never drunk coffee before, couldn´t have cared less if she´d offered him a nice cup of sewage. He just wanted her to be gone and the fastest way to achieve that seemed by assenting to everything that woman proposed.
“Yes, thank you. A cup of coffee would be lovely”, he replied with a grin that was only too well-known among the community of both – dead and still alive rabbits.
The old woman either didn´t notice or simply choose to ignore it, since she patted him on the shoulder and said in a sing-song voice: “Coffee it shall be!”
His toothy grin would have scared the living shit out of a great white shark by now.
His mood changed instantly as soon as SHE stood before him.
Like the last time she wore a beautiful dress that flowed heavenly around her body though this time it was a light green instead of white.
“Hello”, she said and again he was lost – lost for words, lost for anything really.
“I wasn´t sure if you´d come”, she added with a tentative smile.
Stupified he hastened to get the right words out of his suddenly paper-dry mouth.
“Eh…of course I came here, you´ve invited me, didn´t you?” This was supposed to sound offhandish but was ruined by his slightly alarmed looking eyes. What if this was all a big misunderstanding?
The Lady saw this, found it very charming and quickly reassured him.
“Yes! Yes, indeed! I did invite you! And I´m so happy to see you!” Her smile could have molten an iceberg.
Her gaze then fell to the bouquet of red roses Count Harecula had all but forgotten about. He followed it, realized what it was that his hand was so tightly clenching around and hold it out to her so abruptly that he nearly punched her in the face.
“For you!” he declared.
“Oh! Thank you! These are lovely!” she said and took the roses from him. When her fingers slightly brushed his for a moment, he felt electrified.
“You´re welcome”, he managed to say.
Say something you stupid idiot!, he thought fervently while she sniffed at the roses.
“Dress!” he blurted out.
“Excuse me?” she asked a little confused and questioningly raised one perfect eyebrow.
“Eh… you´ve got a very beautiful dress. I mean… It really suits you very well”, he added hastily, remembering having read somewhere that a compliment should always be accompanied by this kind of emphasis.
“Oh! Thank you… eh, I don´t even know your name”, she said with a tiny giggle that somehow managed to make his blood roaring in his ears.
Automatically he giggled, too – another first for him.
“I beg your pardon, my Lady. I am Count Harecula”, he said, quite proud with himself.
“A Count?” she asked.
“Yes, that´s right. I am a Count.”
“And what do your friends call you?”
“My friends? Eh…”
Never having had any friends but only servants, Count Harecula found himself in a slightly uncomfortable position here.
“My friends, eh, they call me… they call me…Harecula! Just Harecula”, he said and longed to wipe off the sweat that had suddenly appeared on his forehead.
The old woman chose that particular moment to suddenly reappear at their sides.
“Lizzy, dear! I see you already met our newest arrival. How lovely!” she said.
Then she pushed a chipped mug containing a conspiciously looking black fluid into Count Hareculas now empty hands.
“Here, darling. Your coffee. You didn´t tell me how you like it, so I assumed you prefer it strong and black.”
Both women were now expectantly looking up at him and Count Harecula felt cornered.
He really didn´t want to drink this stuff! Not only did it have the wrong colour (naturally he prefered his liquids to be red), but it also filled him with fear about the possible side-effects this drink could have on him. The beer was still unpleasantly slushing around his stomach.
But there was no way around it, protocol simply demanded that he at least take a sip of the offered beverage.
He braced himself with a deep breath, and then drank the coffee.
To Be Continued…