Two vampires, one Cinderella.
She didn’t lose her shoe—the heel pierced through His heart.
Pearl is a bookworm—a good girl. She feels like Cinderella when a billionaire family invites her to a prestigious event where Pearl must pretend to be a noble lady for the night.
But the fairy tale takes a dark twist when a stranger poisons her blood and traps her with a hungry vampire. Pearl’s survival turns into a wicked game of love and dominance. Enemies turn lovers, but how can a good girl survive a bad boy when the poison runs through her veins? Dominant vampire romance, impossible survival and a choice between two men—those are the trials Pearl must face.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Honestly, I was inspired by my love towards vampires and my friends requesting me to write about particular things (i.e. having a human heroine trapped in a survival situation with hungry vampires). While writing this story, I also befriended other authors of my genre, and it was a lovely experience to support each other throughout our creative projects.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Pearl is a book lover (like most of my readers). I wanted to make her relatable to the lovely ladies reading this book. She's a mix of a shy yet brave young woman who has a past trauma that prevents her from forming meaningful relationships because I believe we all fight our invisible demons, and we grow while doing so. The female heroine is a person I see in most women who strive to be strong despite their past. In other words, the characters are inspired by my readers.
1: The Garden
The sweet taste of exorbitant wine was supposed to calm me later—or that’s what everyone else expected when they dressed me as a doll dipped in crimson. Yet I felt like a fool, painted in luxury.
I was no Cinderella, but I was dolled up like one.
Blood was the colour of my gown, trickling down my legs like a silky waterfall. High heels inflicted pain on my ankles, but I had to wear a decent pair of shoes today—I had to look elegant.
I stood in the middle of the bright dressing room, shivering with a billion worries on my mind. The white walls threatened to swallow me, but the blazing lamps made my eyes water. A crew of make-up artists and fashion designers cornered me like a pack of hungry wolves, turning me into somebody I wasn’t. It felt like a lousy charade. I was about to try to fool thousands of people to believe I was somebody special while actually—I was nobody. I was an ordinary girl whose father had to perform as a pianist at an event that I knew nothing about.
“Miss Underwood, please stay still,” said one of the staff members responsible for dressing me up. Golden stripes and diamonds covered his dark skin—the gemstones were probably real and more expensive than my apartment. I felt like a goose standing next to him.
Each of his assistants was an opulent exhibit of art, covered in roses, lilies, peonies and orchids. They moved like ballerinas, although their job was to dress me and cement my face under make-up layers until I could no longer recognise my reflection. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. A lot of women say that cosmetics are their armour. Considering the circumstances, I could do with some protection to avoid any curious eyes.
I had read many beautiful tales throughout my lifetime—perhaps this event was a test of my imagination. At least for a night, I could pretend to be a wealthy lady. I’d get the heavy make-up layers to mask my true face. I’d wear the red dress that consisted of two parts: a bodysuit and a lush skirt. I’d walk on the ridiculously high heels like a model and fool some prince. If I had a convincing voice or any courage to speak to strangers, I could make a man believe I was a princess. But, unfortunately, no camouflage could make me brave enough for that. I was no liar, and I was no high-born.
“Miss Underwood, please,” the golden man growled.
Involuntarily, I glanced into his eyes and nearly jumped. Red flames ignited in his gaze—or so I had imagined.
My anxiety played dirty tricks. As if frozen hands, trembling lips and rapid heartbeat weren’t enough of a challenge, the unsettling feeling in my guts made me see things that weren’t real. I could swear that the man’s eyes glimmered like flames for a second, but as soon as I blinked, they were warm amber.
Breathing faster, I glanced down at my chest where the red dress failed to contain my breasts properly. If the clothing were my own choice, I’d never wear anything as revealing. The urge to cover up kept me dizzy.
“Bring her a glass of water,” the golden man ordered one of his assistants, gracefully gesturing with his hands.
The girl rolled her eyes, but she listened to her manager and brought me some cold water. Instead of giving me the bottle like a decent human being, she shoved it into my hands and walked away, her heels slapping the marble floor with an unpleasant rhythm.
Finally, I was allowed to sit down. My quivering knees were desperate to relax, but my rumbling stomach and nausea played a game of war, leaving me restless. The white leather sofa was the softest furniture I’d ever felt underneath me, but even its welcoming embrace couldn’t comfort me.
“How pathetic, she will embarrass her father,” one of the girls whispered to another. It was easy for her to judge me. I’d love to see how she managed to live my life if her childhood consisted of hospitals and a mother who gave up on trying to save her.
“Miss Underwood,” the golden man sat down next to me. “I know the first time may feel worrisome, but I assure you—there’s nothing to fret.” He fixed his black suit and pulled a tiny glass bottle from a pocket. “Here. It’s just an essential oil that may help you calm down.”
I accepted his gift and opened the bottle to inhale the scent. I didn’t want my distress to turn into insanity since it had already caused me some hallucinations.
“Thank you,” I whispered shyly.
“The cameras will only follow you when you escort your father into the main hall,” the golden man tried to reassure me. “Afterwards, the attention will go to the organisers of the event and the Botanic Paradise founders.” He pulled out a visit card from his chest pocket and hid it in my palm. “There’s my number if you need to escape.”
The man stood up and joined his team. I spent a moment breathing faster and feeling confused about what he meant by ‘needing escape’. Was he flirting? Or was it a genuine gesture of concern? Perhaps I looked pitiful, and the man felt sorry for me.
I glanced at his card. It was white with golden wings decorating his name: Michael Kadz. My trust in men wasn’t the greatest, so I placed the piece of paper on the side table and ignored his phone number—not like I’d carry my mobile phone in my bra. I had none. Nobody provided me with a matching handbag, and wearing my purple backpack didn’t seem like a wise idea for the prestige ball.
“It’s the time!” Michael clapped his hands and started ordering everyone around. His crew of followers began dancing around him like disoriented sheep.
An angry-looking woman came to me holding a hairbrush and some scissors. I hated the day I signed the contract with the Botanic Paradise, letting them do whatever they found suitable for my appearance for the event. I never wanted to cut my long chestnut hair. Any resemblance to my mother was unwelcome.
“Not her!” Michael stopped the fiery woman from coming near me. “Her hair is perfect as it is. If you ruin the dress with those scissors by any mistake, Lady Francheska will make you dig your own grave.”
Everyone seemed busy. I was the only one sitting and sipping the cold water, feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time. Michael glanced at me a few times while dolling up another girl. I was happy to be finally left alone, but an unsettling thought seared my tired mind—how was I supposed to use a bathroom while wearing the gown? The top part of my dress was a long-sleeved lace bodysuit with no buttons or zippers between my legs nor anywhere else. The bottom part was a silk skirt, tied around my waist and long enough to sweep the floor behind me.
The discomfort was unrealistic. Two days ago, the team of designers and beauty technicians had arrived at my apartment to ensure I’d look flawless for the ball. They waxed me everywhere I didn’t ask, scrubbed my skin until I felt like I’d have none left and applied way too many products that I never knew existed. Although my skin was no longer raw, I felt like I had signed up for a one-way ticket to hell. Anxiety, physical fatigue and discomfort were my new sisters. They followed me everywhere I went.
“Okay, we’re leaving in a moment,” Michael announced loudly. “Make sure every model is ready to meet their dance partners!”
My head started spinning as soon as he mentioned dancing. Since the day Dad won the pianist competition to perform for the opening of the Botanic Paradise, I had to attend the dance classes where they taught me to move, breathe, smile. I failed at nearly every lesson and managed to memorise the steps only about a week ago. I couldn’t let Dad down. If the opening dance was a must, I had to do it.
Michael glanced towards me once more, and I jolted as soon as I noticed the red flames in his eyes. This time, they wouldn’t leave, no matter how many times I blinked. He headed my way.
“Your father has arrived, Miss Underwood.” Michael offered his hand to help me stand up.
“Your eyes,” I muttered, unable to move an inch.
Michael shook his head and smiled. His gaze regained the warm amber colour. “What do you mean?”
“They were…” I paused, not wanting to sound crazy. “I saw flames.”
“You must be hallucinating.”
I frowned and stood up on my own. A wall made of mirrors caught my attention, luring me into a trap when I noticed my reflection. Who was the stranger in the mirror? Was it really me? I failed to believe it. The glamorous woman wore the most elegant dress, the red lace blushing scarlet on her skin. She wore no jewellery, but her sapphire eyes looked suitable for precious gemstones. The dark make-up made her thick lashes seem twice as long, but her crimson lips were deliciously plump. No accessories decorated her long chestnut hair, letting her look wild and noble at the same time. The only sign that gave away her secret was the wet sparkle in her frightened eyes, and it was the only reason I knew I was looking at myself, not a stranger.
The luxurious reflection intimidated me, so I forced myself to look away. Instead, my eyes slid down to my feet. I was used to walking on heels during my dance classes, but not as high as the designers forced me to wear. Somehow, I managed to leave the spacious room and walk to the reception where all artists gathered. Dad stood among many other musicians, smiling and chatting like his biggest dream had come true. Playing the piano at such a grand event was a great honour for him.
My steps slowed down not to interrupt his conversation, but it took him two glances before he recognised me when I waved at Dad.
“Pearl!” Dad called out, stunned by the layers of make-up and designer clothes that had camouflaged me into an elegant lady. “You look gorgeous!”
I wasn’t sure how it was a good idea to make me taller than my father by those enormous heels, but I smiled and took the compliment.
“It must be your unconditional love for me that makes you say it,” I attempted to joke, but all my insides trembled in fear. Restlessness shook my bones.
Dad introduced me to some orchestra members, but I failed to remember anyone’s face or name. All my focus was on survival. My heart started hammering when a signal rang to let the musicians, artists and escorts know that we were about to open the event.
Dad offered me his elbow. I hooked my arm in his tight grasp as we formed a majestic line before entering the main hall where the guests mustered.
“Do you remember the steps?” Dad whispered.
I nodded, unable to say a word.
My skin paled in mortification as I followed my father into the ballroom where I wasn’t supposed to be. If my mother hadn’t left us for some rich guy when I was eight, she’d faint, hearing Dad play the piano at the Botanic Paradise. If she hadn’t abandoned the family, it would be her escorting Dad. On the other hand, maybe he would never stop drinking if Regina stayed with us instead of some billionaire. Her new man probably added her to his harem of desperate women.
The trail of my revolting thoughts dispersed as soon as we entered the hall. All guests—dressed like kings and queens—waited for our performance. Every musician, artist, designer and other staff member had to perform some traditional dance. The speakers on the walls released a loud sound, and the guests applauded as the show began. As expected, I forgot a few steps, but Dad kept smiling. He was simply happy to be there.
When our performance was over, Dad and the orchestra had to leave. The artists got scattered all over the area. As soon as the cameras no longer pointed at me, I decided to go outside and have some fresh air in the garden.
The enigmatic night veiled over the flowers, and I was surprised to discover their toxic glow in the absence of light. It seemed almost unrealistic, but that was the whole point of the Botanic Paradise. The founders had recreated their own version of heavens, which was all that the event was about—allowing the wealthiest people to see the paradise no ordinary human could afford. For once, I let myself forget about my life and wandered deeper into the garden to enjoy the scenery.
Music played everywhere. While Dad performed indoors, there were plenty of violinists and cellists scattered across the vast garden. Enormous trees bloomed with colourful petals and scarlet leaves. I recognised none of them. Those were no ordinary plants—their trunks dazzled with artificial lights coming from within the trees. The view was even more majestic as I followed the pathway. It felt like I had travelled to another dimension where magic reigned the world, although I knew the garden was full of scientific wonders. I had to admit that the Botanic Paradise had done a great job.
“Miss Underwood!” Michael joined me with a glass of red wine and a glass of champagne. “I wasn’t sure which one you’d prefer.”
“The one that isn’t spiked to seduce me,” the awful joke escaped my restless lungs. “And my name is Pearl.”
Michael grinned and handed me the glass of wine. “Then it will be this one. I’ll drink the spiked one myself and seduce my reflection since that one, at least, is a male.”
I froze for a second. “Oh.”
“I wasn’t flirting,” Michael added with a smug grin. “My offer to accompany you had pure intentions.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,” I said awkwardly. “I’m just so nervous about this event.” I sipped the sweet wine and allowed it to drown my discomfort. “I’ve never attended such a lavish ball—or any ball, to be honest.”
“It’s quite obvious,” Michael laughed. “Which is why I wanted to help you feel more at ease.” He sipped his bubbly and gestured to invite me further into the botanic garden. “Do you know the history of this place?”
I shook my head. I knew nothing about the Botanic Paradise. All that mattered to me was that they organised a competition for various musicians. The prize was to earn the opportunity to perform for them tonight, and Dad had won. I didn’t care about the rest. I never followed any news about whatever billionaires did, in case if I’d see my mother anywhere.
“This place is built on a land that used to be a shelter during the times of war.” Michael grinned. “There’s a bunker underneath us.”
I had a few more drops of the costly wine when I nearly choked, hearing the story. Why would anyone build a garden on top of an old bunker?
“Careful,” Michael patted my shoulder.
“Is the bunker still functional?”
“I’m not sure.” He finished his drink and placed the empty glass on a tray when a servant passed by. “All I know is that the Vandenbergs have turned it into an edition to this beautiful garden.”
“Vanden-who?” I chortled as the first signs of tipsiness kicked at my knees. Usually, I’d avoid any alcoholic beverages because Dad used to have drinking problems, but the event had turned me into someone else for the night. I used it as an excuse to calm my nerves with wine.
“The Vandenbergs,” Michael repeated, “You know—Draco Vandenberg—the founder of the Botanic Paradise?” He glanced at me as if I were a complete fool. “Please don’t tell me you don’t know who he is.”
My face swelled with hot flushes. “I don’t.”
“Okay, don’t tell anyone,” Michael grinned. “Draco Vandenberg is the owner of this entire place, and his sister—Sophia—is the designer of the garden.”
My glass was already empty, and it wasn’t surprising I felt drunk from just one drink on a hungry stomach. My head spun, but at least I had calmed down.
Michael led the way deeper into the picturesque scenery, and the bright stars above us praised the parade of the majestic plants. We reached an outdoor stage where every detail was carefully designed with various flowers and a spectrum of vibrant colours. A crowd of glamorous ladies encompassed the area. If I weren’t in desperate need of a toilet visit, I’d probably feel curious about the performance everyone was so eager to see.
A group of ballet dancers stepped onto the stage, and two graceful silhouettes followed them. At first glance, it seemed like a gorgeous couple. The woman’s black coiffure was suitable for a crown, and her white dress of diamonds made her look like a fictional queen. The man next to her wore a perfectly polished black suit, but his jacket had floral embroideries and sapphire stones placed around the collar. His golden hair was smoothly combed backwards, but the colour of his eyes was what made me reconsider my sanity. Liquid silver painted his irises, but his gaze was like bullets, shooting into my heart.
“Am I delusional, or are that man’s eyes glowing in the dark?” I elbowed Michael, unable to focus my dizzy head.
“Are you okay?” Michael caught me when I stumbled over a steady surface. “You don’t look well. Let me take you somewhere less crowded.”
I nodded and followed him into the nearby maze. Michael took me further away from all the curious eyes, but his phone rang, painfully cutting into my ears.
“I’m sorry, I must answer this call.” He picked up the phone.
My stomach disagreed with my poor dietary decisions, punishing me because I took the wine before eating anything. My eyes lost any focus and the world blurred. I grasped my head, suddenly feeling odd. Was it a headache? I wasn’t even sure.
“Yes, I have everything,” Michael said to whoever had called him. “Yes, I’ll deliver the lamb soon. Carry on with the mission.”
I chuckled, imagining how the leader of the designers would deliver meat at a lavish event like this one. On the other hand, there was plenty of food anyway. Why would an additional meal be required?
I leaned against one of the statues behind me, cursing the damn heels and the alcoholic beverage that made me feel ill. Gladly, Michael shoved his phone back into the pocket and returned to hold me.
His hands grasped my waist as he approached me closer than I’d expect. Gently, he pushed me to the statue and placed his lips on my neck. I was too dizzy to jolt, too powerless to shove him away. My arms were no more solid than jelly.
“I thought you said you were gay,” I mumbled. Or at least it felt like I did. My head spun, and I was unable to focus my gaze.
Michael met my eyes and grinned. “I lied.”
Panic planted a seed of horror in my chest as my breaths failed to bring me any oxygen. “You drugged me!”
“That I did, indeed,” Michael grinned, and his eyes turned to the previous flames that I had seen in the dressing room. His lips unveiled a set of white fangs—inhuman and threatening. “I needed someone unimportant to play the role of a lamb. And you, my dear, made it incredibly easy for me. The essential oil you inhaled earlier on had a wonderful fragrance to bring your guard down, didn’t it? It numbed your sense of smell.”
What was he on about? I failed to understand.
“I didn’t drug you, Pearl,” Michael whispered, his lips burning down my neck. “You drugged yourself. I only need to activate the potion with my venom.”
“What?” I asked, helplessly grasping the statue behind me when my knees failed to hold me. The crazy man frightened me.
Suddenly, violent screams escaped other parts of the enormous garden. I could join their voices, but I’d be wasting my breaths on a useless sound. Painful shrills, gunshots and other horrifying noises surrounded my leaping heart.
“You have an important role to play, dear Pearl,” Michael whispered before sinking his teeth into my neck like an animal. Warm scarlet trickled down my skin as I lost the game to the blackness that took away my consciousness.
Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
Buy Survive My Blood (Two Vampires, One Cinderella) On Amazon
All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.