Of Love and Monsters

Chapter 22, Part 1: For All the Marbles

Granite Falls Train Station


Present Day, Granite Falls Train Station

William was used to repeating himself with Vladislaus. It was hard for Windenburg’s Vampire King to hear something for the first time and truly listen. Stubborn. Arrogant. Obstinate. Even before Vladislaus became a vampire, these were words William would have used to describe his friend. 

“You want to get back into the black with dear old Alice and you cannot have a hope if you’re three train cars away,” he said calmly, handing the clerk a ticket to scan their luggage. 

It was surprising how cheap the Baking Show production company actually was. They flew the contestants only as far as Granite Falls and then booked them on a ten-hour train ride the rest of the way. William figured it worked to his advantage, though. He already made note of Dylan’s seat number and planned to charm the bookish baker the whole ride to Windenburg.

Should he make dinner reservations? That might be too much, too soon. He’d play it by ear—

“I want to never be on one of those sage forsaken airplanes again. I would prefer to travel no farther than I can mist and barring that, I want…” Vladislaus trailed off as he watched Alice struggling to lift her suitcases onto the luggage scale. 

They could hear her arguing with herself about “over-packing” and “not needing any of this shit for a temporary trip.”

William saw the tick in Vladislaus’s jaw just before the vampire rushed over, too quickly for any mortal, and lifted the suitcase onto the scale. 

Alice folded her arms and eyed him suspiciously, but at least she didn’t give him the finger.

“You think riding coach is going to make good old King Vlad-y into a better vampire?” Caleb sneered, tracking the same scene.

William smiled amiably. Caleb always expected the worst. Whatever Vladislaus was now, it was better than before. The witch who cursed him was worth her weight in gold, which, coincidentally, was the exact amount William paid her.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. He hadn’t stuck around for 500 years just to see Vladislaus destroy himself. What the vampire and his new conscience would do, well, that William could not predict. But at least he had given him the tools. Albeit, in a way that Vladislaus despised and would consider to be a betrayal.

He told no one that he was the one who cursed Vladislaus, not even Caleb. Some secrets were worth taking into eternity.

He clapped Caleb on the back with a laugh. Vladislaus was at his most insufferable when he was in love, but William welcomed the change.

“Oh ye of little faith. An old dog can learn new tricks. He just needs proper motivation.”

SimNation Rail Express to Landgraab Station


Vladislaus Straud did not travel coach, of that, Alice was certain. If you could afford to stay in a hotel suite the size of a penthouse apartment (and Alice knew, because she checked), you did not, for the love of llamas, ride coach.

And yet, here he was: sitting across from her, making it hard for her to think or keep her pulse from racing, which she realized—embarrassingly—he could sense. She spent the first two hours of the ride ignoring him, a feat she achieved with approximately 5% success. Every time she read or played on her phone, she found herself unconsciously stealing a peek at him.

And he was always looking back at her. 

Finally, he spoke, his tone smug. A challenge.

“That was a curious poem you recited during your audition.”

Statements, her father always said, did not require a response. 

Remember you don’t care about him, Alice told herself. 

Be cool, she instructed. 

And when that failed, she reminded herself that he had been staring at her for two hours and that was weird. In fact, if she was going to open her mouth and say anything in response, it was going to be that he was weird.

“It was about sex!” she blurted out instead. 

Ben laughed so hard inside her head he actually snorted.

“I know,” Vlad replied, doing that stupid raised eyebrow thing that for some reason Alice liked. “I was riveted.”

“Riveted” was a word that did not seem ridiculous coming out of his mouth. It sounded sexy and mysterious and, llama’s help her, intriguing.

Damn it!

“I’ve said ‘riveted’ before and you’ve never complimented me,” Ben complained.

Alice resisted the urge to tell him to shut up. But she thought it. Very loudly. 

“I haven’t heard it in centuries. Long dead poem, mostly dead language. You are quite the connoisseur of interesting topics,” Vlad continued. 

Alice tried and failed not to stare at his teeth when he said it. Excitement flared and she forced herself to replace it with annoyance. He purposefully screwed her during the bake-off, chose Jimena who was probably reclining in first class, and he was still here trying to flirt?

“He watched you talk to yourself like a crazy person, dance like a drunken fool, and lifted that luggage I didn’t overpack too. I think I was wrong, I like him,” Ben added.

Alice snorted. She was not interested in giving Vlad extra credit. “I think you just like seeing women talk. Wasn’t that what you were doing with Jimena all night at Planet Honeypop? Talking?”

He grimaced when she mentioned the club. “That, I can promise you, did not happen.”

Oh, he could promise that didn’t happen? Yeah. Sure. Valeria Martin didn’t raise a fool.

Alice fixed him with a skeptical look. “The long dead poem was about death too. The witch eats her lover’s heart because his performance was…what’s the word? Disappointing.”

Whatever reaction she was expecting, it wasn’t the one he gave her. Vlad did not look uncomfortable, in fact, he looked all together pleased.

“Why Alice Martin, you say that like it’s your favorite part. It doesn’t upset you, the idea of eating a man’s heart?”

Well, she certainly didn’t want to eat anyone’s heart—gross—but zombies ate each other’s brains to express condolences and she had no problem with that. Zombie funerals were actually quite beautiful.

“I have an open mind about other cultures,” Alice shrugged.

Vlad chuckled—a warm raspy sound that immediately caused a fluttering in her stomach.

“I thought we thought he was an asshole,” Ben remarked.

This time, Alice did respond out loud. ”Give it a fucking break!”

Vlad studied her, his eyes narrowing. “Your side conversations are also very curious. There are no ghosts about…unless…you’ve trapped one inside an object to siphon off its power?”

“What?” Alice balked, “You can do that?” 

“Yes, weren’t you listening last year when we had to bind that poltergeist at the Rattlesnake Juice Bar?” 

Ben sounded insulted, which was fair because Alice had not been listening.

What she had been was covered in green slime and exhausted from all the chanting and chalk circles. Plus, the ghost nearly punctured her eardrums screaming like it was being murdered for the fifteenth time. The whole thing sucked.

“I didn’t realize that was something anyone would choose to do,” she answered honestly.

“And yet here you are, in possession of such an object and haunted by it,” Vlad insisted.

“I…” she paused. She could explain Ben but she didn’t want to get sucked into another favor like she did with Contessa. If a customer didn’t know an item was on sale, you didn’t volunteer the information.

“I didn’t know the supernatural world even existed until I met you,” she finished with half honesty. 

Vlad’s nostrils flared. “You need a better supernatural teacher. Your lack of knowledge is astounding. It could get you killed.” 

Okay. Arrogant much? She was the God of Death. Kind of. She could handle herself. She handled Contessa!

Alice rolled her eyes and poured as much sarcasm into her tone as possible. “I’d like to see them try.”

“That’s just it Alice, I would not have to try. I could, if I wanted, call to the plasma singing in your veins. You would run, but the adrenaline pumping through your system would only make it all the sweeter. A creature like me would find you, and devour you whole.”

Alice could not explain why, but the look he gave her made her almost think he and Contessa were entirely different species. She should have felt a frisson of fear creeping down her back but she didn’t. Vlad was threatening, yes, but she wasn’t threatened by him.

“You don’t have to be so dramatic,” she mumbled. “I just…”—she tried to find the words to describe her feelings—“…I guess I just feel safe with you.”

Vlad went still. Had she said something wrong?

“So…what were you doing after the mixer at Planet Honeypop?” she asked, attempting to change the subject.

“Looking for you.”

His reply was quick. Immediately, he clamped his mouth shut and was quiet again.

Her heart gave a traitorous thump in response.

Well fuck.

Just as she was on the verge of becoming normal, she was falling for a stupid vampire.

SimNation Rail Local to Windenburg Central


Vladislaus Straud was supposed to be in control. He wanted her, yes, but it was meant to be on his terms. He was the one steering this, not her! And yet, he had to stop himself from talking so he wouldn’t reveal his every secret.

Even when he finally felt capable of protecting his vulnerabilities, he still found himself at her mercy. It turned out she was quite good with Ye Olde Simlish, though she couldn’t recall where she learned it. Every time she used an old phrase or recited another poem, he felt at home.

And he still wanted to tell her everything.

The train filled up after the Landgraab Station stop, and he was pleased to find that Alice chose to sit beside him rather than a stranger. After awhile, she fell asleep, her head leaning on his shoulder.

For a moment, he closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of her up against him. He slid a hand down to her hip, clutching it gently and she didn’t move it, merely laid her hand on top of his.


One hour and a different sleeping position later, Vlad pulled Alice closer to him, his hand tracing a light pattern along her collarbone. She still wouldn’t tell him exactly what her parents did. And she knew an overwhelming amount about art. Would she like his museum?

Initially, he was furious when William booked him on coach, but now?

Now, he was distracted by this mortal who spoke long forgotten languages and tangoed with ghosts. She was seemingly fearless of the supernatural world which gave him no end of heartburn. The need to protect her was so strong, it woke up the dark creature that had previously lain dormant inside him.

Obstacle. Threat. Prey. Desire. The thing inside him was awake, aware, and wanting. It had been centuries since he felt this…


What was this?

Vlad chuckled inwardly. The witch sought to curse him, yes, but she only intended for him to expire under the crushing weight of guilt. She could have never predicted that guilt would give way to so many other desires!

Yes, he struggled with having second thoughts when he previously tore through the world using only his instinct. But if anything, this new ability made him stronger. Better. More in control.

The joke was on her. He had conquered her ridiculous curse on his own merits. He didn’t need the Owl to fix himself. He could use it for whatever he wanted!

And Vladislaus wanted—

Alice shifted and put her head in his lap. His thoughts stuttered. He watched the peaceful rise and fall of her chest as he gently tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

I guess I just feel safe with you, she said.

Vladislaus could not keep the phrase out of his mind. Once, he had loved a woman and promised to keep her safe. But that man, that experience, felt like it was a thousand lifetimes ago.

He settled back into the seat, careful not to disturb her.


That’s the word he was searching for earlier.

512 years later, Vladislaus Straud finally felt content.


Couple Poses with Sofa by MaryGelal

15 Sitting Poses by lsims1357

Posepack 20 by Katverse

Sims 4 Custom Couple Animation Pack: Sitting on Sofa by Gaming Tweety

From the fantastic and amazing Simmerberlin (I’m sorry she stopped making poses but I completely understand!)

By the additionally amazing JoanneBernice (thank the stars for these facial expressions)

Mug Pose Accessory by soloriya

I need more Coffee poses by Lilit Creative Shop

from the sims 4 gallery

Hogwarts Express Train by leena3 

Newcrest Train Station by Scheinheilig1603 

Train Station Park by black_odile 

Exit mobile version