The after-taste was sweet, almost chocolate in flavour  but not quite. He loved the warmth of it, like a warm brandy by a roaring fire. He felt giddy; the festive season was always filled with surprises. He licked his lips and stared at the tree. He had been careful with the decorations…

Most tend to throw those shiny bits of everything on the branches. The main goal of those without pride was to remove all hint of green. He preferred to measure out the distance of each piece. Even the tinsel was exact, exactly the right amount for each branch. He was proud of his work. Under the tree were three gifts. One for himself, one for his servant, and one for a guest; he never expected a guest, but always felt it was wise to be prepared.

On this evening of all evenings, there was a chance for the kindness of strangers to want to spend a bit of time with even an old scoundrel. He expected, maybe even hoped, for a group of carollers to ring his bell. This didn’t happen and lead to his late night sobriety. That changed with the patter of steps on his roof. The falling of soot in the cold fireplace, the sudden arrival of a pair of black boots and a red suit lined with fur.

“Ho, Ho, Ho,” the visitor bellowed with rosy cheeks and white beard. The man’s smile was wide and kind.

Vlad smiled as he pounced, sinking his teeth deep into the neck of his late night visitor. He drank deep and long until he was satisfied.

Yes the after-taste was sweet, he thought remembering the moment. Not just chocolate, perhaps more like chocolate chip cookies.


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