Click here for chapters 1-12.
Just like last time I´m going to provide those of you who prefer to lean back and enjoy being read to an audio version of this chapter.
Unlike last time however it´s not me doing the reading. Instead Gentileschi Productions is proud to present My Slightly Different Count Dracula – Chapt. 13: Finding Solace read, or rather performed, by my friend Phil “The Voice” Ryan! Phil has two awesome blogs (both of which I beg you all to visit) and an even more awesome voice! That´s why I had to ask him if he would do me the honors and read some chapters for me and you whenever he´s got the time to do so. He graciously agreed to it and I´m happy to announce that he has thus unknowingly signed a binding contract for life! 😉
And now lean back and enjoy the show!
Devastated and heartbroken Count Harecula tumbled through the deserted streets of the city. Unforgivably he´d convinced himself that Lizzy really liked him. He´d even brought her some flowers! (He´d conveniently forgotten that this had been actually Igor´s idea.) Something had gone very wrong this evening and he simply couldn’t figure out what it might be.
As he reached his castle, he hoped none of his servants would notice him, but that was of course an idle wish. Igor would never go to bed without seeing to it that the Count had safely returned home and had everything he possibly could need before he retreated to his coffin. Well, he had come safely home, Count Harecula thought. Apart from the fact that his heart lay in tiny little pieces scattered all over the empty streets he´d wandered tonight, he added bitterly.
Normally Count Harecula entered his stately home through the large wooden doors in front of the building. But tonight he hoped to sneak in unobserved through the kitchen door in the back.
Feeling like a thief in the night, he stood in front of the door, unsure how to open it.
He prodded it cautiously with his forefinger.
He suspiciously eyed the doorknob.
Then, with his tongue slightly sticking out of the corner of his mouth, he reached for it.
The door swung silently open on well oiled hinges.
Pushing it close again he still had his back to the large room when a voice behind him made him jump.
„Good evening, Sir“ Igor said and looked up from the newspaper he had been reading. He stood up from one of the benches that stood on either side of an enormous wooden table right in the middle of the room. Folding his newspaper neatly together, he looked expectantly at the Count.
„May I ask how his lordship´s evening did fare?“
Count Harecula who still had to recover from his shock of having been caught sneaking into his own castle by his butler, suddenly saw red.
„It was fine!“ he snapped. „Fine! Absolutely fine! Really, very fine! Very fine indeed!“
„Anything repeated four times must indeed be true, sir“, Igor said, striving to keep his features emotionless.
The ensuing silence was only interrupted by the ticking of a hot water boiler in a far corner of the cavernous room.
Igor cleared his throat.
„May I ask what exactly has happened to turn this evening into such a fine one for his lordship?“
Count Harecula couldn’t believe his ears. How could Igor even dare to ask him such a personal question? He would have to put him in his place at once!
Then Count Harecula burst out into tears.
Through a series of little hiccups he told Igor everything, starting with his unintended visit to the bar, where he´d unwillingly become part of a fight (he slightly exaggerated his active role in it), the short stop in the costume shop to get something to hide his blackened eye with (at this point he finally removed the satin tie from his head and threw it in the bin) and finally he told him what had happened at the ASS-meeting.
When he reached the part of his story where Lizzy had lifted her hand to volunteer as a sponsor for „Edmund“, his tears flooded more vigorously than ever.
Igor, who had listened without interrupting his master, reached for a clean kitchen towel and handed it to him. The Count blew his nose and gave it back. Igor, used to grossly stained textiles of all sorts, accepted it with a straight face.
„She even proposed that I join them and TALK!“ Count Harecula said indignantly. „Together with that stupid guy! Can you believe it?“
When Igor was sure that his masters flow was ebbed for now, he said,
„Well, I don´t know her ladyship in person, but from what his lordship had the kindness to share with me, I gather she is a very fine young lady who simply wants to help those in need. I don´t think that she wanted to insult his lordship´s feelings. She simply felt that this young man needed her help in this delicate matter and offered it generously. As his lordship will surely not have forgotten, that seems to be the whole point of the ASS-meetings“, here he raised an inquiring eyebrow before he continued to speak. „This young man clearly wants to get rid of his condition in order to protect the woman he loves. I fail to see what his lordship might have against it.“
„But why didn’t she offer me her help?“ Count Harecula petulantly demanded to know.
„Maybe her ladyship sensed that his lordship´s interests lay somewhere else?“ he hinted.
Count Harecula who had composed himself somewhat by now looked at his butler and considered this for a moment.
„You really think she could tell?“ he asked.
„I´m afraid so, my lord.“ Igor replied.
Igor knew from experience that his master would be occupied with thinking this through for a while. He went to the enormous fridge that still looked tiny in comparison to the room and took out some ice cream that he had secretly stored there. It was his all time favorite: Chocolate Macadamia. He gave one half of the little container into a bowl, added a silver spoon that was decorated with the Count´s coat of arms and put it in front of his master.
„I suggest that his lordship have a taste of this ice cream. I always find it very helpful in times of… stress. If there´s nothing else I might do, I bid his lordship goodnight.“ With that, he tucked his newspapers under his arm, grabbed the now half empty ice cream container and left the kitchen.
„Yes, yes…good night, Igor“, Count Harecula replied. He absentmindedly took the spoon in his hand and dunked it into the bowl of ice cream without really looking at it.
The taste of the ice cream successfully diverted him for a moment from rolling his thoughts over and over in his head. Although he found its temperature slightly irritating as he was mainly used to hot blood, he found the texture of the stuff extremely appealing. Moving it around in his mouth from one side to the other, he was hit by two equally pleasant sensations: the strange combination of sweet and bitter of the chocolate that reminded him a bit the coffee earlier that evening, and the crispy crunchy feel of chewing on the nut bits.
Though savoring every mouthful he soon had emptied his bowl and with a look around the room to make sure no one was watching, swiftly licked it clean.
He let out a small contented burp for which he automatically apologized although no one else was present.
His feverish thinking had somewhat slowed by now and he felt more peaceful than a couple of hours ago. He also felt that the sun was slowly coming up and left the kitchen to retreat to his bedroom and the coffin that stood in it.
He closed the lid over him a minute before the sun was stretching her rose-colored fingers over the rim of the earth and fell instantly asleep.
To be continued…