It has been seven long years since the first night he came to my chamber, seven long years since the string of haunting, incredible, and perilous events occurred—events which I am certain no one else will believe, even though we took care to make a written record of it.

It is those transcripts of our journals—mine, and the other’s—which I look at from time to time, to remind myself that it all really happened, and that I did not merely dream it.

Now and then, when I spy a white mist gathering in the garden below, when a shadow crosses a wall at night, or when I see dust motes swirling in a beam of moonlight, I still find myself jumping in expectation and alarm. Jonathan will press my hand and catch my eye with a silent, reassuring look, as if to let me know that he understands, that we are safe.

But when he turns back to his reading by the fire, my heart continues to hammer in my chest, and I am overcome not only by the sense of apprehension that Jonathan knows I feel, but by something else as well . . . by longing.

Yes, longing.

The record I kept—the journal I so carefully wrote in shorthand, and then typed for the others to read—was not the entire truth; not my truth. Some thoughts and experiences are too intimate for others’ eyes; some desires are too shocking to admit, even to one’s self. Were I to reveal all to Jonathan, I know I would lose him forever, as surely as I would lose forever the good opinion of all society.

I know what my husband wants—what all men want. For a woman—single or married—to be loved and respected, she must be innocent: entirely pure of mind, body, and soul. And so I once was, until he came into my life. At times, I feared him. At other times, I despised him. And yet, even knowing what he was and what he wanted, I could not help but love him.

I will never forget the magic of being held in his embrace, the compelling magnetism of his eyes as he gazed at me, or how it felt to whirl about the dance floor in his arms. I still shiver with delight when I recall the dizzying sensation of travelling with him at the speed of light, and the way his slightest touch could make me gasp with unimagined pleasure and desire.

But the most wondrous times were the hours upon hours of conversation, stolen moments in which we revealed our most private selves to each other and discovered all that we held in common.

I loved him. I loved him passionately, profoundly, from the very depths of my being, and with every beating of my heart. There was a time when I might have gladly given up this human life to be with him forever.

And yet . . . .

All these years, the truth of what happened has weighed heavily on my mind, taking the pleasure out of ordinary things, stealing my appetite, and banishing sleep. I find I cannot carry the guilty burden within me any longer. I must put it all down on paper, never to be seen by other’s eyes, but certain that only in the writing will I at last be free to let it go.


Chapter One


When I first stepped off the train at Whitby on that bright July afternoon in 1890, I had no inkling that my life, and the lives of everyone I knew and loved, would soon be subjected to the gravest of dangers from which we—those of us who survived—would emerge forever altered.

When my foot touched the station platform that day, I was not overcome by a sudden chill, nor did I have an uncanny premonition of the unthinkable events to come. There was, in fact, nothing to indicate that this holiday at the seaside would be any different from all those pleasant sojourns that had come before it.

I was two-and-twenty years old. I had, after four happy years, just quit my position as a schoolteacher in preparation for my upcoming marriage. Although I was deeply concerned about my fiancé, Jonathan Harker, who had not yet returned from a business trip to Transylvania, I was filled with delight at the prospect of spending the next month or two in a beautiful place with my best friend in the world, where we could talk together freely and build our castles in the air.

I caught sight of Lucy standing on the platform, looking lovelier than ever in her white lawn frock, her dark curls peeking out demurely from beneath her stylish, flowered hat, as she searched for me through the crowd. Our eyes met, and her face lit up.

“Mina!” Lucy cried, and we raced into each other’s arms.

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