Hello, I’m Westerleigh Hartford. Yes, I look exactly like some dewy gothic heroine, don’t I, with my golden hair, large blue eyes, and flowing skirts, which hide my figure. You’d never suspect I wasn’t a girl. Yuri did a really good job of disguising me, didn’t s/he? Actually, I’m not sure if Yuri himself is a pretty boy, or an androgynous girl, although I lean towards the former. Not that it matters. Yuri is Yuri, all spiky bangs hiding in an elfin face, with paint under nails, which have been bitten too many times. Yuri Cross is one of the few people, who knows my secret. You see, I’ve always loved old houses with history attached to them. I love history, as well as the legends attached to old houses. I’ve also had this crush/admiration on my ancestor, Elizabeth Hartford, for years. (see ‘E is for Elizabeth’) She was an educated woman, twice the man of any man. Twice the woman, too. She studied magic, wrote extensively, traveled, and had any number of lovers, including the painter, Judith Cross. Judith painted Elizabeth’s portrait, which hangs on the wall at Hartford Hall. I have copies of the portrait, which my mother handed down to me, but I longed to see the original my entire life. Hartford Hall is private, you see. You can only visit by invitation of its current lady, Fiona Hartford. (see ‘F is for Fiona’) Fiona practically never leaves. She didn’t know very much about Elizabeth’s other descendants. She thought I was a girl. When Fiona sent me a letter, saying how much she’d love to meet another ‘daughter’ of Elizabeth’s maternal line, how there were things she could only tell another female descendant of the Hartfords, I realized I had the chance of a lifetime. Cross dressing seemed a small deception to commit for this chance. It’s not like masculinity had ever been one of my strong suits. A lot of people mistook me for a girl, anyway. Yuri thought this deception was a really bad idea, but s/he helped me, anyway. Even provided me with the gothic lace outfit I’m wearing now. Off I went to Hartford Hall in drag; eager to meet Fiona, to see the Hall, and above all, to see the portrait of Elizabeth. When I got there, I realized nothing was what it seemed. Fiona ran around in a labcoat, all wild eyed as any mad scientist, but spouting off the most superstitious drivel I’d ever heard! At least, I thought it was drivel, until I saw Elizabeth’s portrait. Her painted eyes looked right back at me and she started speaking in my head. I thought I was going mad, but Elizabeth would have none of that. She claimed to a ghost, attached the portrait, but her body was still alive, possessed by a demon, or a vampire. I wasn’t clear on which, since the body is keeping itself young and beautiful, by drinking blood. This sounds like a vampire, but Elizabeth insists it’s a demon. She says we have to find her body and destroy it. ‘We’ meaning ‘I’. She’s quite insufferable about her quest, ordering me around, as if my body were hers to command, simply because I’m descended from her! Hardly the meeting I hoped to have with my childhood idol. However, things are going to get worse. Elizabeth claims the entity in her body is looking for the descendant of Judith Cross. This creature needs that descendant’s life’s blood, or life force, in order to continue its eternal existence. It’s connected to Elizabeth’s painting, just as Elizabeth’s ghost is. All this is bad enough, but a horrible thought occurred to me. Yuri’s last name is Cross. S/he’s made comments about his/her ancestor being an artist, how s/he got the talent from her. I’d think s/he’d have mentioned it, if Judith Cross was his ancestor? Or perhaps not. I’m remembering all the bad dreams Yuri used to have, the hollows under his eyes, because s/he couldn’t sleep. In his rare, unguarded moments, s/he’d say something was coming after him, constantly, in his dreams. Yuri used to say a lot of strange things, but after what I’ve seen, I’m starting to worry. I don’t dare tell Elizabeth or Fiona about Yuri, though. They want to find Yuri, too, supposedly to save Yuri from the demon/vampire possessing Elizabeth’s body, but is that all they’re trying to do? I must find out more of what they’re up to, for Yuri’s sake. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to, if my author writes my story, ‘A Portrait is Worth a Thousand Words’. If you’d be interested in reading more about this, please let my author know. It might encourage her to come up with more than simply blogs and a title, relating to this.