Red flavour

chapter 1

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Mina Harker stood on the dock watching the ships coming in. The salty sea air was fierce and bitingly cold, whipping her long, dark hair across her face and rasping against her round cheeks, turning them from pale to pink. But though it stung her at her nose and throat, she still couldn't resist breathing it in in deep, brine-y breaths. She loved the sea, being beside the coast always reminded of her carefree childhood days in Whitby.

She put her hand to her stomach to calm the butterflies of excited anticipation that fluttered there and was once more alarmed by the new inches of flesh that sprung up beneath her fingers. She had been naive to think that the extra pounds she had piled on these past six months were not noticeable as she fought her extra flab into her tight clothes that morning. Despite the chill winter air she undid the buttons of her coat that strained almost to bursting across the round paunch of her belly and gave a sigh of relief, her warm breath fogging the air infront of her.

Her breath caught in her throat when she caught her first glimpse of him. He was so far away that she had to squint but still she felt sure it was him, she would recognise his tall silhouette anywhere.

"Jonathan!" She cried and waved to him excitedly even though she was still much too far away for him to notice her.

She was so eager to see him, to embrace him again after all this time that she barely heeded the annoyed looks and angry mutters of the people she accidentally bounced out of the way with her ample hips and increasingly prominent belly as she weaved through the crowd towards him.

She called to him again but still he did not seem to hear her, he was too focused on watching a group of men transfer heavy wooden crates from the ship that he did not think to look for her.

When she was almost close enough to reach out and touch him, he finally turned towards her. She could not help but gasp at how changed he looked. In the stark winter light his skin looked washed out and lifeless, the whites of his flint grey eyes had a sickly yellow hue and he was so thin that his suit hung limply from his bones.

"Oh, Jonathan," she said, her voice full of tender pity and concern.

"Mina," he said. His voice sounded thin as the wisps of snow that had begun to swirl in the air around them.

Before she could say more they were interupted by the crash of the ship's crewmen dropping one of the heavy wooden crates.

Jonathan's head snapped quickly towards them. "You fools! You idiots!"

Mina flinched. She had never heard his voice so harsh and full of anger before.

"Do you have any idea what you've done?" Jonathan demanded.

While he admonished the hapless crewmen for not taking care of the precious cargo some more, Mina crouched down to examine the damaged crate.

"Dirt," she said softly. "They're full of dirt."

Though the icy winds pinched at her fingers, she removed her glove and picked up a handful of the earth, allowing it to fall through her fingers. It was the strangest thing: it felt warm. No, not just warm but  alive somehow. It sent a surge of energy through her frigid fingers that warmed her blood and made her nerves tingle.

She quickly withdrew her hand and wiped her hands with her handkerchief, still looking at the earth wonderingly. "What is all this, Jonathan?"

"They are Count Dracula's possessions. He sent them ahead of his arrival in London. I am to see that they arrive safely at his estate." There was a note of pride in his voice and even just saying the words seemed to make his chest puff out with a sense of his own importance.

"I borrowed a book about Romanian history from Dr Helsing's library while you were away. Legend has it that Vlad The Impaler would sleep in unconsecrated earth from his castle in Transylvania. He believed it regenerated his powers after battle..." Mina said.

"Aye, the rich have many queer ways," one of the crewmen said as he hoisted the damaged crate back onto his beefy shoulder, scattering more earth onto the deck. "Best not to think about it too much, my lady."

Jonathan only laughed and kissed her on the forehead. "My clever little Mina. I'm sure it would amuse the Count to hear what stories you've read in your books but he is not a myth, only a mere man - though a fantastically wealthy one at that."

For a moment he seemed so much like his old self that nothing else seemed to matter. As he pulled her body into his, she naturally leaned into his embrace. She longed for the comforting familiarity of his body. The smell, the feel, the taste of him.

She looked up as she felt the tickle of snowflakes landing on her nose and eyelashes.

"Come," Jonathan said, taking her by the hand. "The journey from Romania to England has been long and it will be longer still before we arrive in London. And now we must beat the blizzard."

When they arrived in London, the storm was gathering strength but the pristine white flakes dissolved to a dull grey slurry as soon as they hit the dirty city streets. Mina's boots splashed in the murky slush as Jonathan helped her down from the carriage and they rushed towards the warmth of their Islington townhouse.

Finally alone together in their home, Jonathan could not help but smile at his lovely young wife. Her cheeks still pink from the cold, the light dusting of snowflakes on her head and shoulders were quickly melting to fat water droplets that clung to the loose curls of her dark hair. But as she shimmied out of her coat, he noticed the way her soft tummy wobbled and jiggled with the motion. She had grown fatter in his absence. Her face was fuller, her hips had widened and her figure had rounded out. She was altogether much larger and softer than when he had left.

Mina blushed a little at the way his eyes seemed to scrutinise her. She gave her clothes a self-conscious tug though she knew that no amount of fussing or adjusting could stop her clothes pinching and bunching over her rolls and bulges.

"You must be exhausted," she said. "Why don't you rest until dinner?"

He trudged up the stairs to their bedroom and removed his travel worn suit and put on the crisp white shirt and trousers that Mina had layed out on the bed for him. The shirt hung so loosely from him that he felt like he was trying on another man's clothes. But then he had the uncanny feeling that he had stepped back into someone else's life. Everything was the same as it ever was aside from a few minor things Mina had moved around in the way that women liked to fuss for no particular reason. And yet he found himself looking around wondering if the house had always been this small, if the rooms had always been so cramped and the ceilings so low, if the furnishings had always looked so scuffed and worn.

He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror of Mina's dresser and for a moment he thought a stranger stood before him. The unfamiliar figure took a step towards him and put a hand to his sunken, bloodless cheek then ran his fingers through his thin hair, wispy and grey as cobwebs. He could not reconcile the image before him with the green young man who had left London six months ago. There were no mirrors in Count Dracula's Castle save a small mirror he had brought to shave with but... what had happened to that mirror? He closed his eyes and saw dreadful images: broken glass, the pulsing of veins, the drip of blood, a flash of teeth. He shook his head, he had cut himself shaving and broke the mirror. He had been clumsy, that was all.

He turned away from the mirror, he felt a sense of panic rising in his chest like a scream. He felt tightness like hands around his throat and a squirming in his stomach. He saw more images that he could make no sense of: twisted figures that cast no shadow in the moonlight; voluptuous red lips; a small life waiting and wriggling inside a sack. No, he told himself as he struggled to reassert a more comforting narrative in his mind, it hadn't been like that at all.

Yes, it had been hard at times. He had never been so far from home and the land so foreign and the people so strange and hostile. He missed Mina and the comfort and familiarity of the life he had in London but he told himself that the hardship had chiselled away the soft boy that he once was and left behind the man that he had always wanted to be.

His original assignment had simply been to spend a month in Romania to secure a suitable estate for the Count in London but Dracula had been so impressed by the young clerk that he insisted that Jonathan spend several more months at his castle to familiarise him with the language, customs and culture of England. In the many hours he spent conversing with Dracula to help the Count perfect his English, the old man had imparted a great deal of his wisdom on Jonathan.
4 chapters, created StoryListingCard.php 3 years , updated 2 years
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Comments

Girlcrisis 3 years
Haha, yes. Christmas or maybe Halloween.
Eponymous 3 years
Ooh, a new girlcrisis story! Christmas sure did come early this year
Girlcrisis 3 years
Thanks. Hopefully you enjoy the rest of the story just as much.
Skibud96 3 years
I can't wait for more! This is beautifully written! smiley
Girlcrisis 3 years
Thank you!
ChellyCurves 3 years
This is really good so far. smiley