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The Haunted Manse

Part 2

As the massive, and somewhat rotting, doors swung open, the stench of stale air and decaying wood assaulted the man standing on the other side. Severin wrinkled his nose and took a step back. Vincent paid his assistant little mind, and picking up the bag with his laptop in it, he stepped over the threshold. Behind him, Severin grumbled.

"Vince, are you certain this is where you want to be? There are many deserted houses and such throughout the Welsh countryside, you know."

Vincent slid his finger through a thick layer of dust on a table by the door and looked around. "I am certain."

From his spot near the top of the stairs, Rhys watched silently as the intruders entered the house. None had dared to live in the haunted manse for close to five years. From the sight of the baggage carried by the one man, it seemed obvious somebody was moving in now. Unseen, Rhys froze in his position as he felt the yawning stir of the darkness of the house. The sentinel hadn't awoken in more than ten years, and Rhy prayed this wasn't enough to disturb him now. Relief ran through him as he felt the presence settle back into the oblivion it lived in. Gliding down the stairs, Rhys moved closer to investigate the two.

"This place is…" Severin paused and Vincent looked back at him, a dark eyebrow lifting in question. "It's hideous," Severin said finally.

Vincent chuckled. "And you think this disturbs me?" He walked around the entry hall, taking in the cobwebs hanging from the moth-eaten tapestries, the blanket of dust covering nearly every surface possible. A suit of armor stood to the right of a magnificent staircase, the dark slits in the helmet seeming to peer out at the new arrivals.

"Didn't say it bugs you," Severin grumbled. He dropped the suitcases at the foot of the staircase and gave the towering steps a crude, cursory glance. "Doesn't look fit to live in."

"If you really wish it, you're welcome to live in town," Vincent said as he started up the staircase. "I will only call you when I need to feed."

Confident he would remain unseen; he drifted between the two before he slowly trailed behind Vincent. Very few mortals sensed him and he wasn't worried about it. He was no more than curious about who would want to live in this place. The few he'd seen in the last several years had been teenagers, daring to break into house after being egged on by their peers. None of the inhabitants of the house paid much attention to the happenings in the house any more. Only Rhys still tended to be curious though he knew in time the interest would fade. Even now his interest had a detached, clinical quality and somehow he realized it should bother him but it no longer did.

Vincent stopped walking. The faintest trace of a smile edged across his lips. Unsurprisingly, they were not alone in this expanse of stone and wood. He didn't know what was here, but he could feel a presence watching them.

"Perhaps," he said as he turned to Severin. The man was picking up their bags and looked up. "Perhaps we should ask where the former lord's chambers are."

Severin snorted as he started up the stairs, a suitcase in each hand and a bag slung over his shoulder. "Ask who? The dust bunnies?"

Vincent leaned forward and whispered, "the occupant of this keep."

Severin's face lost all its color. "Wh-what are you talking about?"

"We are not alone, my friend."

Severin remained silent for several minutes as Vincent turned and continued up the steps. "You're fucking weird, Vince," he muttered. "Even for a vampire."

When Vincent stopped, he didn't. Rhy continued on his way up the stairs, drifting through Vincent. At the top of the stairs, he turned to stare at the other. The last word of their conversation caught his attention. A vampire? He'd never seen of those before and he studied Vincent with a flickering rise of curiosity.

His chuckle whispered through the hallway with a dry rustle of sound as if from very far away, but oddly close. A faint chill filled the air with the increase exercise of power from him, and one of the doors, further down the hallway, opened.

Vincent looked down the hallway and smiled. "Thank you," he said to the empty whisper of air. Little fazed him anymore, but judging from the look of sudden fear on Severin's face, it was apparent his friend and donor wasn't so convinced. Vincent chuckled as he started down the hallway.

Severin followed him, and rather closely at that. When they reached the doorway, Vincent pushed it open the rest of the way. White sheets covered every surface but the massive, four-poster bed. Thick drapes of deep red brocade hung from the canopy, framing the dark-wood bed. Severin dropped the suitcases down and let the bag slip from his shoulder. "Well, at least it's a big bed," he said.

Vincent turned and smiled. "Yes, very true."

Severin walked up to him and slid his hands up Vincent's arms, then over his shoulders. "Are you hungry?"

Not missing the hopeful tone of his friend's voice, Vincent set his laptop bag on the floor, before slipping an arm around Severin's waist. "As a matter of fact," he whispered as he brushed Severin's hair from his neck, "I am."

Rhys had only been trying to be helpful; he hadn't meant to frighten anybody. That was the sentinel's job, not his.

After they entered the room, he stood back. Now would be when he should disappear into the further reaches of the house, yet he hung back. Curiosity to watch this vampire tugged at him, and he settled at the edge of the bed, still unseen. Rhy hadn't felt the emotion for some time.

The last occupants of the house had been a newlywed couple, and their antics had bored Rhys so he had left them alone. After they left, the years stretched into a timeless monotony, undisturbed except for the occasional midnight break in and sleepover of curious teenagers. Naturally with his first chance to study a vampire up close, Rhy felt reluctant to give him any privacy.

A dozen butterfly-light kisses danced over Severin's throat before Vincent's fangs dropped to sink deep inside the smooth flesh. Severin's arms circled his neck, holding him close as he fed. He drank lightly, not wanting to overdo it so soon after the last. He had just fed from Severin only two hours before, but this was more for Severin's enjoyment than his own nourishment. As he pulled away from Severin's neck, he licked the wounds, sealing them completely.

"Please, Vince," Severin pleaded, his eyes halfway closed as his breath remained ragged. Desperation sounded in his voice and Vincent simply could not deny him.

He backed Severin up to the bed and pressed him down onto it.

Watching intently, Rhys remained frozen until the two of them ended up on the bed. He swiftly scrambled to get out of the way and continued watching from his safe position near one of the corners up by the ceiling.

As he descended over his friend's body, Vincent left soft kisses in his wake. When he reached Severin's crotch, he quickly unfastened his jeans and pulled the hard length of his cock out. He touched his tongue to the slit and Severin's hands threaded through his hair.

"Yes. Please, Vince…"

Vincent chuckled and opened his mouth, taking all of Severin into it. Fingers tightened in his hair and he began stroking the hard length, mirroring the movements of his lips up and down the shaft. It didn't take much more than that. Severin groaned as he came, filling Vincent's mouth. Vincent swallowed and licked him clean before moving back up for a kiss.

"Better?"

Severin nodded. "Oh, yeah."

The house itself seemed to suddenly come alive to Rhys' senses. Whispers floated through the halls and into the room, heard only by him. Sensing the restlessness filling Rhy, the house reacted in a beckoning welcome to draw him back to where he belonged. It wasn't his place to feel anything towards the living and the whispers reminded him of the fact.

Still he remained hidden in the darkness of the corner, his gaze fastened on Vincent even as he felt the stronger pull of the force of the house.

Vincent slid off of Severin and watched as his friend stood on shaky legs. Severin smoothed his polo shirt out and gave Vincent a lop-sided grin.

"Never fails. When you feed, I feel like I'm drunk as hell." Severin leaned down to kiss him, then straightened back up. "I'm going to finish moving stuff in."

Vincent nodded and waited until Severin left the room before saying anything.

"I know you're here. I can feel you. I can feel the energy of this place as well."

He stood and walked over to a stately form under a white shroud. He pulled the cover off and stared at the mirror, seeing nothing but the bed and the room behind him.

"It's been so long since I've seen myself," he said quietly. "So long, that I've forgotten what I even look like."

The stronger the pull of the house, the more stubborn Rhy became, refusing to give into the persuasive attempt. Slowly, he descended back to the floor when Severin left. Moving towards Vincent, he watched him silently as he stilled behind him.

"How is it you feel those things?" His whispered sounded close to Vincent's ear. As he moved to stand beside him, Rhys' gaze lingeringly drifted down over the mass of ebony hair. For a silent moment, he took in the strong, chiseled features unlined by any sense of years, and he wondered how old the vampire was. A darker aspect seemed to have taken up residence in the dark brown eyes when Vincent turned his head in Rhys' direction.

Rhys sensed the loneliness behind the words and beneath the facade of strength. The general interest he'd felt at first deepened over this curious creature. How could such an incredibly handsome man be lonely?

"Ah, so you are not a figment of a lonely imagination." Vincent smiled, although there was little happiness within it. "I feel much that most cannot. You watched us; you watched me feed. So you know what I am."

He turned fully around and held out his hand. Only the slightest change in temperature, along with a soft ripple over his flesh, gave any hint of something standing beside him. With a somewhat dejected sigh, he let his hand fall back to his side.

"Let me see you, if only to know the one to whom I am speaking."

"I've never seen anyone like you." Slowly Rhys gained insubstantial shape, looking much as he did in life. From his expression, it was clear he wasn't sure what to make of Vincent. Dressed in an era long gone, the tight black jacket and knee breeches seem to fit his presence. And the waterfall of lace at his throat and the cuffs of the white shirt seemed as pristine as they were the last day of his life.

He stood next to Vincent, smiling slightly. "It's not often that anybody really wants to see me either."

Taking in the sight of the young man before him, a genuine smile settled on Vincent's lips for the first time in quite a while. His own black turtleneck and black slacks looked remarkably bland compared to the young man's stately dress. As his gaze traveled over the slender form, his smile widened slowly. When he reached the young man's face, he felt a spark within him, one he had long-thought dead. The most beautiful emerald eyes stared back at him, full of wonder. Framed by a mass of red curls, the youthfulness of the man's face left Vincent speechless for several minutes.

"I can't see why that would be so," he said when he finally found his voice. "You are a very handsome young man. What is your name?"

Rhys couldn't help chuckling at the comment. "I suppose it has to do with me being a ghost. Some don't mind, but most that inhabited this house did mind. Until some of them found out what the other side was like. I'm Rhys Kelly, or I was."

A lively sparkle glittered in his eyes as he studied Vincent in turn. "I didn't even know someone like you existed. But then I don't get out much." His words held a note of humor.

Vincent lifted a dark eyebrow in amusement. "Someone like me? I am only a man."

He glanced back into the mirror before he draped the sheet over it once more. The movement was almost automatic to him now. He turned back to Rhys and then moved over to sit down on the bed. He studied him in silence for a moment before speaking again.

"If you don't mind me asking, how did you die? You tell me, and I'll tell you how I did."

Tilting his head slightly, Rhy glanced at the mirror before looking back at Vincent. A slow gaze traveled over him, finding much of interest before his eyes returned to his. The chocolate brown and its hint of much more beneath the surface held his attention. "I thought you wanted to know what you looked like. Did you never have a portrait done of yourself?"

He paused before moving slowly towards Vincent, a slight shrug of his shoulders accompanied his words. "My mother poisoned me. She didn't want me to inherit because she believed I was a wastrel."

"Nice woman," Vincent quipped sarcastically. "As for myself…" He sighed as he stretched out on the bed on his back, staring up at the underside of the canopy. "I once knew what I looked like, but it's been so long, that I've simply forgotten. No bother, I suppose, as no one but Severin seems to give a damn anymore. All those I once loved are long dead. I'm surprised Severin remains with me."

He closed his eyes and swallowed, knowing damn well the tears were there, just under the surface, even after nearly seven hundred years. "I was once a lord, of an estate much like this one. I had a wife and two sons. Then war came. As a king's knight, I fought alongside many others, but it did not last. I was thought dead and left on the battlefield. When I woke up once more, I found myself the guest of a young scribe. I thought nothing of it at the time, until he offered me a chance to heal completely."

Vincent opened his eyes and the tears slipped free. "He failed to tell me many things. Due to the fears of the age, I watched my family from afar as they all grew old and died before my eyes. I was powerless to stop it." He looked at Rhys and tried to smile. "Ah, but I do not mean to bore you with details of a knight's life. I am merely seeking to find a place to exist, I suppose. Life and love have left me, I think."

"She was right, you know. My younger brother managed the estate far better than I would have." If nothing, he'd learned practicality being dead this long. He listened silently to Vincent as he hovered near the bed. The emotion behind the words had no true effect on him other than to remind him he'd forgotten how things affected the living.

"Don't you find peace, Vincent?" His body floated as he sat cross legged, the drift settling him just beneath the canopy near Vincent. "I understand your words but I'm not certain why it would bother you."

Rhy did his best to try to comprehend what Vincent might feel and from the tears that fell, he understood that it still influenced the vampire.

"Don't mind me," Vincent said with wry smile. "I'm merely an old, romantic fool, one who has lost the meaning of life, yet still searches for it. I've forgotten what it's like to love, to kiss someone because you want to and not just because it helps them to deal with the pain of your bite."

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This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author's deranged imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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