Night coursed through Claire's being, bringing her to wakefulness for yet another evening. She rose, as always, hungry. But those who staffed Wandesford Estate knew of this, and her breakfast was waiting in a chalice of burnished bronze. She drank it with enthusiasm before even exiting the elaborate coffin that served as her bed, wondering who had provided the offering that night. Not that it mattered much, not for regular feedings. Meal taken, she slipped her nightgowned self onto the cold stone floors and made her way to her dressing room on the floor above; one of the serving girls was there waiting with her undergarments and dress, and another was preparing her makeup and hair things. Claire let them go about their tasks, examining the process in the standing mirror. No matter how many times she'd gone through the routine, she found it fascinating, the subtle transformation from her sleeping hours to her waking ones. Pale cheeks were roughed, lips lacquered, hair pulled up in an classic sweep, corset was tightened, and dress pulled on.
And suddenly, Claire was Claire, in all her dark, extravagant elegance. The dress of midnight blue and black suited her, accenting her eyes and making her slender figure seem more curvaceous. Smiling at herself in the mirror, she nodded at her servants to dismiss them and meandered toward the study. She'd been engrossed in a particularly engaging mystery book series for the last fortnight and had gone to sleep still ruminating on the plot. Fully intent on reaching what was sure to be the juicy conclusion, she lit the gas lamps around the room and reached to pick the book up from where she'd left it on the side table the night before, but stopped just short of taking the tome in her hand.
Something, someone, was outside, and she knew without looking that they did not belong there. Book forgotten, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, allowing her other senses to reach out and locate this intruder. It did not take very long, and without realizing she'd moved, she was standing at the window, curtains drawn and partitions open. The light from within revealed the figure of a strange man, clothes in a state of dishevel, looking somewhere between frightened and confused. More than intrigued, Claire leaned forward and rested her elbows on the windowsill, making sure he could see her décolletage even in the dim lighting. She reached out a beckoning finger and smiled like she would've at a lover. "Come closer, stranger," Claire practically purred, noting the man's bared chest and dark curls. She wondered fleetingly if he was perhaps a servant from another estate, as there weren't many of his kind of any means. That made his garb somewhat confusing, as it seemed they were well made, but it could simply have been the lighting.
"Come, let me see you better...don't be shy."