Click here for Chapt. 1-10
The bitter taste of the coffee Count Harecula had been forced to drink, hit him like nothing else ever had.
No, that wasn´t quite true, something did had the same effect on him: it was his first ever bite into a juicy rabbit – an overwhelming sensation that seemed to be unrepeatable no matter how often he tried to reevoke it.
The only difference to that occasion was, that the coffee tasted totally revolting (much worse than the beer) whereas the blood had been incredibly delicious.
And yet it seemed that his brain asked – no: demanded! – that he take another sip of the brew. Rather grudgingly he obeyed and noticed with surprise that the second gulp didn´t seem to be as disgusting as the first one.
“Good, isn´t it?” asked the old woman with a grin and nudged him with her elbow.
“It´s my special blend. Only the best and strongest beans for me!” she declared proudly.
“If you want more, don´t be shy. I always bring several canisters for our meetings.” With that she took her leave and hurled herself to some other attendants.
“She´s remarkable, isn´t she?” said his Lady with a twinkle in her eyes. “Always full to the brim with pure energy and cheerfullness.”
Although Count Harecula still had to digest yet another new sensation, his overactive mind hadn´t missed one essential information this evening had provided him with.
“So,” he said, trying to be nonchalantly but awfully missing the target, “your name is Lizzy.” The chipped mug in his hands felt reassuringly warm and he took another sip in order to hide his already masked face.
“Yes, it is! Well, actually it´s Elizabeth, but no one really calls me that.”
“Very pleased to make your aquaintance, Miss Elizabeth,” Count Harecula said and bowed slightly. He wished that kissing hands was still fashionable but times had changed… for the worse he often thought.
“Oh, please! Call me Lizzy!” she said and stretched out her hand for a handshake. Count Harecula nearly threw his mug away just to be able to hold her hand with both of his. Now it was him who didn´t want to let go, and when she retrieved her hand, he felt like she´d ripped his heart out with it. Just like that.
“Well, if you insist… Lizzy,” he said with a slight tremor in his voice. He actually feared that he would break out any moment and sing one of his favourite arias out of pure joy.
“I hope you don´t mind me asking… but why are you wearing this mask?” she said and pointed at the object in question.
The joy he´d only felt a second before evaporated in a flash and was replaced with utter embarrasement.
“Oh! This… well, I thought since you´ve said that the meeting was anonymous …” he let his sentence drift out, hoping that she would fill in the blanks, and added a nervous laugh.
“I see. Yes, that does actually make sense… in a way”, she replied. “Although you do realize that you just told me your name, assuming that it´s not a false one. And as you can see, nobody else is wearing one”, she said and winked at him.
The sweat that so far had restricted itself to his forehead, now seemed to break out of every pore.
Although he longed to tell her the truth, he simply couldn´t because he feared she would think of him as a regular fighter. He might be a killer, but by no means was he a roughneck. (It really wasn´t possible not to kill the tiny rabbits when he was sucking their blood – he had tried several times to retreat before their little hearts stopped beating, but everytime he had already taken too much for them to recover from the attack.)
He decided then to go onto the offensive and hide his true motives for wearing the mask behind his well-known vanity.
“Why? Don´t you like it?” he asked, adding a hurt look to make sure. This wasn´t at all difficult for him. Although the advertisment in the costume shop had stated that this particular item would make him just as irresistable to the ladies as Zorro himself, he now began to doubt that the satin tie held up to its promise. Maybe he should go back there after the meeting was over and retrieve his money.
“No! Not at all! To be honest… I think you look very… dashing”, she said and her pink translucent eartips went darker in colour.
Dashing! No one had ever called him that before! Impressive, imposing and even majestic at times, but never dashing – Ha! He rather liked it!
But before Lizzy and Count Harecula could continue their conversation, the old woman appeared like out of thin air beside them again and ordered everyone present in a surprisingly loud voice to take a seat and commence the meeting.
Count Harecula couldn´t help feeling a severe grudge against her. The only thing that kept him from silencing her forever (apart from being in a room full of witnesses), was his now miraculously empty coffee mug. Without even noticing it, he´d drained the whole thing and felt the urgent need for a refill.
So, killing her, it seemed, wasn´t an option anymore. Well, at least not until he´d found out where she´d got her supplies from.
He´d been secretely hoping to have his Lady all to himself during the meeting, but as the seats were arranged in a circle that didn´t seem very likely.
Bad as that already was, his mood even got worse when he watched a young man taking the empty seat on her other side.
He was a tall and very pale looking guy with a mass of bronze-coloured hair that shone brilliantly under the harsh light of the halogen lamps.
His Lady – Lizzy, he reminded himself – gave the young man a brief smile and then focused her attention back on the old woman.
Count Harecula could have killed this guy instantly.
What he didn´t know, was, that it was going to get much worse in the next hour – much, much worse.
To Be Continued…