It's the house of Lucien Lebrettan, my heroine, Laura Dantonville's father, and Prime Elder of the Brethren in Sydney. His house is an embodiment of his power - grand, imposing and somewhat intimidating.
I had fun trying to find a house which suited that image, especially as Sydney has many old Victorian, gothic-style mansions, and any one of them would have been perfect as the house of an prominent vampire, with their mysterious gargoyles, impressive gables and imposing structures. But, it also had to be a home for Laura's bodyguard, the Roman soldiers who'd lived for eighteen hundred years waiting for the birth of the one who would end the curse.
The house I eventually chose is an amazing National Trust property called, The Abbey. It was constructed by the first Premier of New South Wales and the father of Federation, Sir Henry Parkes, in the then popular neo-gothic style.
When Laura sees it for the first time, she's both repulsed and as well as impressed. But, I'll let her tell it in her own words.
Did he say house? The sandstone building at the end of the driveway was a magnificent neo-Gothic mansion of a style popular sometime in the late nineteenth century. A copper-clad tower dominated one side of the building. I gaped at turrets, arches with stained glass windows and ornate gables, while stone gargoyles stared impassively down at all who entered.
Perfect place for a vampire gathering!
As Alec drove in, I rolled down the windows and inhaled the heady scent of eucalypt from the trees that lined the expansive driveway. Crushed gum nuts and leaves crunched under the tyres as he turned the car into a large clearing capable of accommodating up to a hundred vehicles. An area had been cordoned off for parking and was almost filled to capacity with a range of limousines and luxury cars, including one or two Ferraris, a Porsche, even a sleek red corvette.
‘Sports cars!’ I turned to him with an, I-rest-my-case, look.
He smiled and eased into a spot marked, Reserved for Princeps. Coming around to my side, he opened the door and linked my arm through his as we made our way to the front entrance. ‘Laura, stay close to me the whole night. Promise me.’
To my surprise, he sounded concerned.
The impressive and heavily lacquered front door, had carved eucalyptus leaves along the outside edge, and two multi-coloured glass window panels greeted the visitor at eye level. I did a quick scan, expecting to see cobwebs and scuttling spiders, but there were none. Then I wondered if we’d be greeted by the obligatory creepy butler, such as Lurch, from Addams Family, and held my breath as the door opened. The porch was flooded with golden light and soft music could be heard in the background as a tall, blonde–haired man stepped out. It was Luc Lebrettan.
I think I gave an audible sigh of relief.
He smiled warmly and lifted my hand to his lips. ‘Laura, it’s a pleasure to see you once more.’
Again, I experienced a sense of familiarity and felt the same prickling as on the previous night.
‘I believe you and Luc have already met?’ Alec asked.
‘Yes, at my aunt’s,’ I replied. Alec had said he was one of the five officiates, which meant he had to be one of the oldest vampires here. I only found out how old Alec was because I asked him outright.
‘There has been a change in the order of events. The Ritual will be performed first followed by the usual festivities,’ Luc said and glanced briefly at Alec. ‘I’m sure Alec has explained to you the situation we would like to avoid. Ensuring your safety is our priority.’ There was the slightest hint of the French accent I’d noticed at our first meeting.
‘I understand,’ I said.
‘Let’s go in.’ He tucked my arm into his so I was sandwiched between him and Alec.
Luc led us through the house, but there was no time to stop and admire the amazing interior. A marble staircase led to an upper floor, before dividing into two separate wings. Above us loomed stone arches, balanced on pedestals in the shape of sculpted angels, and stencilled images of griffins, dragons and other medieval mythological creatures decorated the walls. Our footsteps echoed on the white marbled floor, which was here and there interspersed with boldly coloured Victorian tiles featuring scrolls, fleur-de-lis and acanthus leaves.
* * *
Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the Dantonville world.
Bloodgifted is due for release as a paperback on Amazon early October, and as an ebook three weeks later.
But, it's already available on Smashwords.