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Hold Back the Night – Chapters 14 and 15

Chapter 14

Friday Morning – St. Agatha’s Cemetery

As Anthony Love stood atop the small hill in St. Agatha’s cemetery, the wind ripped through his deep purple robes and his lush chestnut brown hair so that he looked like he was flying.  A large percentage of the population of Nightfall had gathered in the early morning chill to bid farewell to three of their beloved neighbors—Aimee Pomeroy, David Anderson, and Noelle Parker—and Anthony was nearing the end of the funeral service.  He had wrestled for hours the night before to find the right words that would console and reassure, but he had to settle on speaking generically about birth and death and the moments in between that comprised a life.  He told the wounded faces that another, more important, existence awaited the three whose bodies were soon to be lowered into the earth.  He spoke clearly and deliberately as if trying to convince himself that his words were, in fact, the truth.  And when he looked out at the sea of mourners, he saw disbelief in their eyes.

Bile caught in his throat and he had to swallow hard to keep from choking.  Clutching the bible with a shaking hand, Anthony knew these murders were random, but that they were connected.  A shiver streaked down his spine causing his body to shake and his other hand lost its grip on the sterling silver rosary beads Jonatha had given him on his tenth anniversary as a servant of God.  He watched them tumble into the large hole in the ground that would soon house three caskets.  From where he stood the rosary beads looked quite insignificant and defenseless.

Fighting the anxiety that began to take hold of him, Anthony continued the sermon thankful that it would soon be over.

“And so we draw upon the Lord’s strength to help us in this time of immense grief,” he said.  “May the Lord embrace and protect the souls of our three friends who we lay to rest here today.”

One by one the three mahogany caskets were lowered into the earth.  They were fine examples of exquisite New England craftsmanship donated by Love Industries.  The townspeople thought it a charitable gesture from a wealthy family; Perry knew it was a small price to pay since he was the reason death had once again taken a prolonged residence in Nightfall.  Madeline simply thought it was in poor taste.

“Aimee would never have wanted to be buried in such an ostentatious coffin,” Madeline said to Amanda in a voice slightly above a whisper.

“She knows Daddy meant well,” Amanda replied.

“If he cared at all about her he would be here right now instead of in Oslo,” Madeline seethed.

Amanda wanted to tell her mother that her father never cared about anything in his life except himself and his business, but she thought a burial service was not the proper place for sudden disclosure.

When the last casket was lowered into the earth, Anthony picked up three white roses and held them high over his head.  He felt his throat constrict as he tried to speak when all he wanted to do was scream at God and ask him why He was putting these people through such pain yet again.  Before he began his tirade, he realized that his role as Nightfall’s spiritual leader required him to suppress public displays of extreme emotion.  The people needed strength, not tears.

“Dear God,” Anthony said, “Please take care of our friends—Aimee, David, and Noelle—and in heaven show them all the love that they showed us while here on Earth.”

He tossed one white rose onto each of the caskets and watched as every person came forward to do the same.  Soon he could no longer see the caskets, but only a sea of white petals and thorns.  As the crowd cleared and began to return to their cars and limousines, the wind grew rough and swirled around him and he could hear it moan and sigh.  It began to blow the roses a bit and suddenly Anthony realized the wind was only blowing around him and the coffins, no one else seemed to be affected or even notice the disturbance.  The roses lifted and stood upright on the smooth mahogany wood until they were all floating above the caskets.  Slowly, the roses parted to either side of the center coffin and when the lid was free of debris it began to open.

David Anderson looked resplendent, yet pale, and still retained much of his youthful countenance.  He was dressed in his official policeman’s uniform that was swathed in several medals David accrued during his short, but decorated, career.  Anthony watched as the dead man bent at the waist to sit up and opened his eyes to reveal the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen.  Even if David did have blue eyes while living, which Anthony wasn’t sure of, the priest knew that these eyes were not human in origin.  They possessed a tranquility and peacefulness that no human being could ever acquire.  Anthony moved closer to David and saw that he was holding something tightly in his left hand.  When Anthony was close enough to touch the living corpse, David opened his hand to reveal Anthony’s fallen rosary beads.

“You’ll need these,” David replied in a voice both strong and tender.  “And very soon.”

Without moving his eyes from David’s, Anthony took the rosary beads from David’s hand and was amazed at its warmth.  He was hardly cold and hard like a cadaver, but soft and warm like a living vessel.  He looked around and saw that no one was staring at him or the dead man sitting up in his coffin.  But after David lay back down and the casket’s lid closed, he saw Jonatha watching him in a small clearing near the edge of the cemetery.  And even though they were quite a distance apart, Anthony could tell that she was frightened.

 

Family Affairs

Walking back to her limousine, Madeline was finding it difficult to conceal her fury.  With one hand she held her black mink coat tightly around her throat, the same mink she let Aimee borrow for her cousin’s wedding last March, and with the other hand she held onto Edwina’s arm.  Out of respect for her departed friend Madeline had dressed impeccably just the way Aimee loved to see her.  Her hair was teased slightly, her nails were French manicured, she was wearing a navy blue Chanel suit, matching Ferragamo pumps with a too-high heel, and she had taken her most expensive pearl jewelry out of her safe deposit box, including the triple strand pearl necklace that Perry gave her on their first anniversary.  She knew her former maid was smiling as Madeline struggled to walk like a lady in three-inch heels through the uneven dirt path.

“I can’t believe your Father couldn’t push his trip to Norway back one day,” Madeline said to Edwina.

With her right ear Edwina listened to her mother, and with her left ear she strained to hear what Joe and Amanda were talking about only a few feet in front of them.

“Given the option of out-of-the-country business emergency or funeral service I think most of us would choose a quick flight to Oslo,” Edwina said, her eyes never leaving Joe’s hand which pressed into the small of Amanda’s back.

“I wish you and your Father would learn the meaning of respect,” Madeline said as she entered the back seat of the limousine.

“I see this is gonna be one helluva day Mother,” Edwina mumbled as she followed Madeline into the car.

 

Joe and Amanda

Out of the corner of her eye, Amanda could see Inez Collins staring at her.  At first she thought it was because of her pregnancy, which at seven months along was something Amanda could no longer conceal even while wearing an overcoat, but Inez was interested in other matters.  Amanda’s unexpected pregnancy had caught Inez’s eye, but she along with most townspeople, were giddy over the unexpected reunion of their favorite couple and Amanda couldn’t help but feel that Inez and the town were finally getting what they had prayed for: Their king and queen were getting back together.

“I think we might have to hold a press conference,” Amanda said to Joe indicating Inez with a slight nod of her head.

“Right after we tell our kids,” Joe said opening the door of his red Mustang.

“Tell your kids what?” asked Winter, who had been walking, unnoticed, to the left of her parents.

“Where’s Jonatha?” Joe asked.

 

Winter looked around the cemetery and although she couldn’t see her sister, she knew exactly where to find her.

“If I find the little scamp will you tell us everything?” Winter asked.

“Yes,” Joe said smiling, “We’ll wait here for you here.”

 

St. Agatha’s Chapel

As long as she stayed on holy ground Jonatha surmised, no harm could come to her.  It was a naïve thought.

Regardless, in the past several days she had come here when she felt overwhelmed with the fear that she would be taken from this earth.  Even once in the middle of the night after a particularly disturbing dream wherein the Devil and God had fought for Jonatha’s soul, she snuck out of the house to seek refuge here.

Now she sat on a stone pew and quietly prayed to the Blessed Mother asking what she always asked: to protect her from the evil she knew was swirling around her just like the flowers swirled around the caskets to allow the dead body to come to life.  When Winter entered the chapel, Jonatha jumped.

“I knew I’d find you here,” Winter shouted.  “C’mon religious girl Amanda and Joe want to talk to us!”

“Please don’t shout in here,” Jonatha said.

“You know if the Blessed Mother weren’t so, well, Blessed, I’d be jealous,” Winter replied.  “You spend all your time with her and not me.”

“I feel safe here,” Jonatha said, then turned away from her sister.  “You couldn’t possibly understand how I feel.”

“Trust me, I know what it’s like to be afraid, but I do know that nothing that involves Miss Mary could be bad,” Winter said. “Plus, with me and Uncle Anthony watching out for you, you have nothing to worry about.”

“This isn’t funny!” Jonatha shouted, her echo bouncing off the stone walls.  “I’m really scared Winter.”

Unable to think of a quick comeback, Winter instead held her sister close to her.  She was surprised to feel Jonatha shaking and was forced to admit that their lives had become terribly complicated and yes, even frightening.  But for all of Winter’s bravado it wasn’t in her nature to acknowledge fear and face it head on.  So she just hugged Jonatha tightly the way her parents hugged her when she was scared as a little girl.  She didn’t believe hugs had any power then and she didn’t believe it now, but she couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“You know I love you right?” Jonatha asked.

“Of course I do,” Winter replied, feeling even more uncomfortable.  “I love you too.”

“I know,” Jonatha said, then decided to change the subject.  “So what do our parents want?”

“They want to tell us they’re getting remarried,” Winter replied.  “But act surprised because they think we don’t know.”

As they walked out of the chapel Jonatha didn’t notice Winter pause and clutch the cold, stone wall.  It felt good against the burn on her hand caused by her uncle’s crucifix.  But she forgot how soothing it felt when her eyes were overpowered by darkness.

The Collins Inn

The phone flew across the room, missed the open window by inches, hit the wall, and fell to the floor.

“Do you feel better now?” Llewellyn asked before taking another sip of Hazelnut coffee.

With rage in his eyes, Dashiell walked over to the phone, picked it up, and screamed into the receiver: “I need maple syrup!”

Again he threw the phone, this time against the opposite wall.  Enid Collins, Inez’s cousin, who was manning the Inn while everyone attended the funeral service, had brought the two men their breakfast, but since she was doing all the work by herself she forgot to include the maple syrup, which was made fresh from trees on their own property.  Dashiell, not used to such bad service from servants, was livid and began to pace the room in front of the small breakfast table where Llewellyn sat quietly.

“All I want is some bloody maple syrup for my bloody pancakes!” Dashiell shouted.

“I think they call them flapjacks in this corner of the world,” Llewellyn commented, quite amused and slightly aroused by Dashiell’s outburst.

“How bloody hard is it to remember to bring maple syrup with the bloody pancakes,” Dashiell shouted ignoring his lover.  “Who eats pancakes without any bloody maple syrup anyway?”

“I have found jam to be a suitable alternative on occasion,” Llewellyn said.

Dashiell was about to pick up the phone again when Llewellyn’s comment registered.

“Am I the only one who demands quality room service?”

“Dashiell we’re lucky the coffee arrived hot,” Llewellyn said.  “You know the entire town is mourning this morning at the funeral for those three people your father killed.”

A second after Llewellyn realized what he had said, he realized it was too late to take it back.  The two men had an unspoken pact not to speak about Dashiell’s father.  It wasn’t as if Vincent Savage and Dashiell ever had a bad relationship, it was simply that they had no relationship at all.  Vincent donated his vampiric sperm to Ondine, who was quite capable of creating a child solitarily, but thought it would be especially exotic if her child were half-vampire.  What she didn’t count on was that her immortal nature and Vincent’s vampirism would cancel each other out so that Dashiell was born nothing more than mortal.  Disgusted, Ondine almost destroyed the “thing that emerged from her womb” as she referred to Dashiell as an infant until she remembered that maintaining a relationship with Vincent was more important than getting rid of a disappointment.  It was for this reason that Dashiell hated his mother only slightly more than he hated his father.

“That thing is not my father!” Dashiell yelled.

“I’m sorry,” Llewellyn said truthfully.  “I didn’t mean it.”

“Yes you did! You think I’m just like him don’t you?” Dashiell shouted.  “You think I’m going to kill innocent people too!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Admit it!  You think I’m nothing but a cold-blooded killer!”

Llewellyn could see that Dashiell’s mood had nothing to do with maple syrup or estranged fathers, but something much deeper.  He was in the final stages of crossing over to the Golden Life and he was starting to realize immortality had a very high price tag.  If Llewellyn didn’t love Dashiell so completely, he would have told him that he did in fact think he would become a heartless killer.  Instead, he put his arms around him to try and calm him down.

“You’re not like Vincent Savage,” Llewellyn whispered into Dashiell’s ear.  “You’re compassionate and kind and you’ll carry those traits with you when you cross over.”

“What if I change?” Dashiell said.  “What if I become a ruthless monster?”

Llewellyn turned Dashiell’s face to him so the men stared directly into each other’s eyes.

“I won’t let you,” Llewellyn said.

They kissed tenderly.  This wasn’t a time for passion, but for understanding.  Regardless of what happened in their future, they would always be connected because despite the complexities of their relationship, their love was quite simple.

Their second kiss was interrupted by the crash of glass on the hardwood floor.  They obviously didn’t hear Enid Collins knock for she now stood in the doorway, her mouth agape as she watched Dashiell and Llewellyn hold each other tenderly.  She fled the scene just as the maple syrup was about to run onto her shoes.

 

 

 

Love Laboratories – Oslo, Norway

After scouring through the fourth and final filing cabinet, Perry still hadn’t found any information regarding the experimental serum Astrid was supposed to be working on.  When he first arrived at the lab he found it empty and now after rummaging through all its contents, he realized Astrid must have taken her work and fled the country.  Or worse, destroyed everything.

Perry clutched a metal table for support and shook his head as if trying to ward off an excruciatingly painful headache.  He surveyed the room yet again trying desperately to see if there was a section of the lab that he forgot to examine.  A cabinet, a box, a test tube that concealed something that Astrid had left behind in connection with the precious serum or at least its formula.  But he had examined every inch of the lab twice and had still come up empty handed.

Cold sweat began to drip down Perry’s back as he imagined what type of revenge Vincent would seek out against him and his family.  He collapsed into Astrid’s chair and his face went ashen as he pictured his family sleeping peacefully and Vincent bending over to pierce his fangs into their flesh, methodically, one by one until they were all dead.  He knew quite well that Vincent would save his punishment for last so that he could witness his family perish.  Vincent might be a vampire, but he was still an angry child.

And although Perry was devastated emotionally by this turn of events, he knew that soon everyone would know about his connection to Vincent Savage and that he, the self-declared patriarch of Nightfall, was responsible for his own grandson’s kidnapping.  He wondered which would be worse: watching his family be murdered or leaving behind such a tarnished legacy?

“Excuse me Mr. Love.”

“Astrid!”  Perry was horribly disappointed when he saw Torvald, Astrid’s assistant standing in the doorway.

“I’m sorry sir, Astrid isn’t here,” Torvald replied, his startlingly white teeth forming into a hesitant smile.

“I know that!” Perry replied impatiently.

The young man bristled at Perry’s outburst and started to back away.  Perry had forgotten how sensitive scientists could be so he softened his tone hoping to extract some information out of this man.

“Do you know where she is?”

“No I thought you might actually,” Torvald said, running his hands through his long blonde hair.  “She left yesterday afternoon and said the lab was closing.  I figured she was just stressed out so I came in today expecting to see her, but she’s gone and it looks like she took everything with her.”

“This is very important.  Do you have any idea where she went? Or where the serum is that she was working on?”

“She never let me near the serum, I don’t even know where the formula is,” replied Torvald.  “But right before she left she said the oddest thing.”

Perry waited for Torvald to speak, but when it appeared that he wouldn’t, he let his anger show: “Well, what did she say?!”

“She said she was going to soothe a savage beast,” Torvald said.  “Any idea what she meant by that?”

“Yes, unfortunately I do,” Perry replied just before running out of the lab.

Nightwind

Awkwardly clutching a Hello Kitty pillow, Joe was sitting on Jonatha’s bed between her and Winter and tried to explain how and why all their lives would soon change.  Amanda was sitting in the antique rocking chair that had been in Edwina’s bedroom when she was growing up and listened to Joe’s nervous speech.  Since he was father to both girls, they decided to let him do most of the talking.  Now as she watched these two young girls look adoringly into their father’s eyes, she prayed they hadn’t made a mistake.

“Girls I think, actually I know, that you’re both old enough to hear what we have to say, which is the truth about what’s been going on,” Joe stuttered.  “Jonatha, your mother and I have agreed that it’s not fair to us, or you, to continue our marriage.  We just don’t love each other.  We care for each other very much and I think we did love each other at some point, but it wasn’t strong enough to last.  You know that has nothing to do with our love for you don’t you?”

Although Jonatha often questioned her mother’s capacity for love she knew that Edwina loved her as much as she was capable of.  Her father’s love, however, was something she knew was hers unconditionally.

“Yes,” Jonatha said softly.

“I know this situation has been difficult for all of us, it’s not the most conventional family, but I think we’ve come through it okay so I know we’ll survive this too,” Joe continued.

“You’re starting to lose me,” Winter said.

“Honey what your Father is trying to say is that he and I are planning to remarry,” Amanda intervened.

Both girls remained quiet.  Even though they knew this was coming it was strange hearing it spoken out loud.  As much as they pretended to be adult and cosmopolitan, they really were just teenaged girls who wanted their parents to love each other.

“I’m not happy about it,” Winter said, surprising herself as much as every one in the room.  “But I can see that you both love each other so you deserve a second chance.”

“Thank you baby,” Joe said.  “Jonatha how about you?”

Jonatha looked at her father and then at her Aunt Amanda with a blank expression.  Joe sensed that Jonatha had been very moody lately, but thought it was a result of her age and the turmoil surrounding Joey’s homecoming.  But as he watched her contemplate this situation, he realized she was under a great deal of stress and his remarriage was just adding to it.

“Honey, are you okay?” Joe asked.

“Are you doing this because of Joey?” Jonatha questioned.

“No, we’re not,” Amanda replied.  “We reconnected before I found out Joey was going to be brought back to us.”

“Promise me one thing,” Jonatha said.

“What is it?” Joe asked.

“That you two will remember how you feel for each other today and won’t let anything or anyone come between you,” she said.  “Love should be for a lifetime.”

“Ours will be sweetie, I promise,” Joe replied, discarding the pillow and embracing both his daughters.

“Thank you both for your blessing,” Amanda said.  “We’re not doing this to hurt anyone.  We just want to live our lives with each other.”

“As long as I can keep my room here at Nightwind,” Winter said, “You can’t expect me to give up this castle for some condo.”

“Oh Winter!” Amanda said, hugging her daughter.

The four of them laughed and held each other tightly on Jonatha’s bed.  They understood that their family was not traditional, but they also understood that it was rooted by deep love.

“I guess this is going to be a day of bombshells,” Winter said.  “If you’ll excuse me I have a party to get ready for.”

“It’s still early honey, you have hours,” Joe said.

“Daddy I’m 17.  It takes me three hours to get ready for school.  How long do you think it’s going to take me to prepare myself to meet my brother who I haven’t seen since I was two?” replied Winter.

“Well don’t lock yourself in your room all day,” Joe said.

“I won’t.  I’ll see you all later.”

When Winter left the room Joe and Amanda were so preoccupied with Jonatha’s acceptance of their remarriage that they didn’t notice that she stumbled slightly when trying to open the bedroom door.  She let her right hand graze against the wall that led to her bedroom and the second she entered the room she closed the door behind her.  Breathing heavily she waited for the darkness that surrounded her to give way once more to the light.

The Collins Inn

Ondine sat at the small table in Dashiell and Llewellyn’s room and heard the shower water running.  She absentmindedly envisioned the two men wrapped in each other’s soapy arms washing and kissing each other, but she was more intrigued by the latest entry in the saccharine love story of Joe and Amanda.  Through Winter’s eyes she saw the announcement of their remarriage.  How sweet, in a boring, mortal way, Ondine thought.  And how short-lived it would be.  Once Amanda gave birth, Ondine would suck the soul out of the child thereby restoring her body to its original state of immense supernatural power.  She wouldn’t linger long enough to see if Amanda and Joe’s love could survive the loss of another child, but she doubted it would.  Until then she would let them cling to their happiness.  But until she reclaimed her power she was vulnerable and therefore had to be careful.

She had survived too long in this body to succumb to the same fate as Raz.  Jumping from one human form to another to roam the earth without any memory of a past life was not a fate Ondine would accept.  She would let the mortals have their party tonight, but when it was over she would take control.

“How dirty can you boys possibly be?” Ondine said, throwing the bathroom door open as Dashiell and Llewellyn tried to camouflage themselves from behind the glass shower door.

“Mother!” Dashiell cried.  “May we have some privacy!”

“I have no interest in watching you perform, but I am growing anxious,” Ondine said.  “We have a busy night ahead of us and plans to orchestrate.  From past experience, I know that at your age it doesn’t take that long to reach the pleasure zone.”

Llewellyn shut off the water as Ondine left the room and closed the door behind her.

“We can’t help her kill Jonatha,” Llewellyn said, preventing Dashiell from opening up the shower door.

“I know, but we have to act as if we plan to,” Dashiell replied.  “And remember she can still read your mind so you have to think about killing Jonatha.  She can’t telepathically control her own flesh and blood so leave the deception to me.”

“I’m scared Dash.  Ondine might be weak, but she’s desperate.”

“More than anything she wants Amanda’s unborn child,” Dash said, pressing Llewellyn’s wet chest close to his, “She’ll stop at nothing to preserve her immortality, but she’s afraid that Jonatha with the help of the angels and maybe even the Blessed Mother, will stop her.”

“So we need to get Jonatha on our side,” Llewellyn said, finishing his lover’s thought.

“Exactly,” Dash said.  “My mother isn’t that powerful any longer.  And once Ondine is gone, it’ll just be you and me forever.”

Although Llewellyn knew that the word “forever” meant two different things to both men, he didn’t correct Dashiell.  If he was going to succeed in fooling Ondine he had to erase every doubt from his mind and concentrate on killing Jonatha Lassiter.

They opened the shower door and stepped onto the cold marble floor quickly toweling themselves dry.  Just as they both wrapped plush white cotton towels around their waists Ondine once again threw the door open.

“I’m waiting!”

“At your service Mother,” Dashiell chirped.  “Anything we can do to help.”

“At tonight’s party Vincent Savage will reintroduce the long lost Love heir to the family fold,” Ondine stated.  “Dashiell I want you to flirt with Jonatha Lassiter.  I want you to seduce her if you have to.  Whatever it takes to make her trust you completely.  Don’t worry about her sister Winter, she’s already under my control.  The family will be confused and distracted,  that’s when I will ask you to bring Jonatha to Serenity Pond, the one place in this horrific hamlet where I am the most powerful, so I can kill her.”

“Not that I really care Mother,” Dashiell said, “but why do you want to kill Jonatha?”

“Because the lucky Miss Lassiter has the angels on her side.  If she is alive while I am taking the soul from Amanda Love’s child there is a chance that they will intervene and prevent me from taking what is rightfully mine,” Ondine explained.

“I see,” Dashiell said.  “And if you don’t get that soul?

Before Ondine could reply, Llewellyn answered Dashiell’s question.

“Then your immortality is compromised?”

No one was more shocked by this statement then Llewellyn, but he knew the truth about Ondine, that she had to conserve every ounce of her energy for her final battle.  If not, she would have lifted her hand and killed him instantly.  Sensing more than a little tension between his mother and his lover, Dashiell thought he should say something.

“That would be a terrible thing mother,” Dash said.  “Considering that you are allegedly immortal.”

“There are many beings on this earth, and above, that would love for me to die,” Ondine said.  “I trust you aren’t one of them.”

“Mother how could you say such a thing,” Dashiell replied, his stare never shifting from Ondine’s eyes.  “If I thought it would help I would lay down my life for you right now.”

“And if I thought it would help, I would have killed you years ago,” Ondine replied.

Seething with an anger she had no strength to act upon, Ondine retreated to her room, silently vowing to make everyone who had ever degraded her pay for their actions.  That group of unlucky souls now included her son.

 

Nightwind

Nightwind was a whirlwind of activity.  Even though Madeline refused to throw the gala celebration her family was planning for her sixtieth birthday party on the same day that she buried her long-time friend, she did agree to have a small family gathering.  However, she would have canceled the party entirely if it wasn’t for her grandson.

Several times during the past week she was overcome with emotion at the thought of being reunited with her grandson after fifteen years.  She had tried to remain calm and supportive for Amanda, but she was as apprehensive as she was on her own wedding day.  Hopefully, tonight wouldn’t be as disappointing as her wedding night.

As she stood at the kitchen counter mechanically chopping vegetables she remembered the last time she saw Joey.  He was holding his mother’s hand as he walked toward the ocean.  She wondered if he would still want to hold his mother’s hand or even look in his mother’s eyes.

Anthony watched his mother chop vegetables and knew that she was busying herself with any mundane chore she could find in order to push away thoughts of tonight’s gathering.  Anthony felt the same way for he was convinced that Joey’s return spelled disaster for his family.  The fear clung to him like smoke in the air and he knew that, somehow, Joey brought with him an unwanted evil.  The only other person who could possibly understand his trepidation was probably the person who would suffer the most.

In the corner of the drawing room, Jonatha sat in one of the velvet chairs looking through the only photo album in all of Nightwind that had pictures of her half-brother.  Joey crawling towards the camera, Joey splashing in a bathtub, Joey blowing out four birthday candles.  That was the last picture that was ever taken of the young boy.  He was staring straight into the camera, his blue eyes wide with hope and delight, not knowing that in a few short hours (or was it minutes) after that picture was taken, his life would be altered forever.

Jonatha closed the book and let it rest on her lap.  She thought about all the strange things that had been happening to her and wondered if there was a connection between those events and Joey’s return.  Could she possibly need protection from her own family?  Or had Joey changed so much that he was only family by blood.  Perhaps in his heart he was something very, very different.

Walking by the drawing room, Edwina saw Jonatha sitting quietly by the window.  She felt the urge to go near her daughter, but felt a more familiar urge to take care of some personal business.  This internal tension was becoming more and more frequent and Edwina didn’t like the feeling one bit.  It was as if she had been separated into two opposing forces: one was only thinking about her own needs, which was normal, while the other was always concerned about those around her.  And when her selfish side won out she was consumed with guilt.

She turned away and thought she would make one phone call and then sit next to her daughter and see what was troubling her.  Since her family was scattered about in practically every room of Nightwind she dialed Vincent Savage from the phone in the hallway.  After the seventh ring she hung up and remarked that she hadn’t had this much difficulty pinning a man down since she seduced Joe.  Obviously, Edwina was losing her touch.

As she watched Joe talk on his cellphone at the other end of the hallway, Edwina realized he had lost none of his charm and sexiness.  He was still the most attractive and alluring man she had ever met and although she had never fully loved him he captured more of her heart than anyone else ever had.  That had to count for something.

Joe put his phone back into his jacket pocket and caught Edwina’s stare as he walked back to the living room.  He stood where he was and smiled at his wife feeling no obligation to speak or move closer to her.  It was the second best feeling in the world.  The best feeling would be wrapping his arms around his son later tonight.  He smiled even broader at Edwina and then left her standing in the hallway as he walked into the living room where Amanda was waiting for him.

She was sitting next to the window, the light shining on and through her golden hair, with her hands caressing her stomach just waiting for Joe to sit beside her.  That’s all she wanted.  She wanted the man she loved to come sit next to her and hold her hand and wait for their son to return home.  And that’s just what he did.

 

Coming Home

Other people weren’t as peaceful.  In the plush leather chair of his private jet, Perry Love gazed out the window and looked like a normal businessman on his way home to his family.  No one would have guessed that he was racking his brain to try to find a way to convince a vampire not to kill his family.  The absurdity of the situation had been replaced with a logic Perry assumed only the insane could understand.

But within all this insanity there was a logic.  Vincent was Perry’s son and perhaps there was a chance that bond still carried some weight.  It was a very slight chance, but Perry had no other choice but to hope that it did.  He also had to find Astrid before she got to Vincent.

Flying a few thousand feet in front of Perry’s plane was a Norwegian Airlines 747 that was carrying a very nervous passenger.  Astrid sat in an aisle seat and stared straight ahead, never once glancing at the incredibly bad Kevin Costner film that was being shown.  She had refused her meal, said “no thank you” to coffee or tea, and didn’t even flirt with the extremely attractive stewardess who kept asking Astrid if she was alright.

“Excuse me ma’am,” the stewardess said attempting one more time to make Astrid feel a bit more comfortable.  “Are you sure you don’t want me to stow your carry-on in the overhead compartment?”

“I told you I’m fine,” Astrid replied tersely.  “Now please leave me alone.”

The stewardess shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and left Astrid alone.  The scientist clutched the small box even tighter to her and was soothed somewhat by its cold temperature.  Inside was the serum that made a vampire invulnerable to the sun and therefore made Astrid invulnerable to a vampire.  But if her plan worked, not only would she be an immensely wealthy woman, but both Vincent Savage and Perry Love would be dead by sunrise.

 

 

Chapter 15

Friday – Late Afternoon

Father and Son

Outside, the rays of the sun shined brightly through the clouds and warmed the cold earth.  Inside, the Savage’s sleeping quarters were pitch black.  Vincent and Adam lay in their respective caskets, already awake, and anticipated the sun’s disappearance so they could rise and roam freely.  They understood that after tonight their lives would change and Vincent, especially, was very concerned about how the evening’s events would affect his son.

“Adam, can you hear me?” Vincent asked Adam telepathically.

“Yes, Father,” Adam replied in kind.  “Are you alright?”

“Yes.  Are you prepared for tonight?”

With his eyes closed, Adam turned his head and felt the soft velvet lining caress his cheek.  He told his father that he was as prepared as he could be for the unexpected, but he didn’t truly understand why he had to meet his biological parents after such a long time.

“If it weren’t for the serum, I would never have arranged for this reunion,” Vincent said.

Adam’s forehead wrinkled as he tried to make sense of this statement.  When he couldn’t find the logic, he said: “Forgive me Father, but I don’t follow.”

“When you take the serum you will be able to walk with the light as humans do,” Vincent explained.  “You will no longer be confined to a coffin during the sun’s reign and you should have the choice of spending the daylight hours with your family.”

“But you are my family,” Adam protested.

Inside his casket, Vincent beamed at his son’s loyalty.  “And you are mine.  But there are other people who would welcome you back into their lives and you should meet them.”

For a long time there was silence and then Adam asked a question that he had always pondered, but never felt the need to ask until now.

“Why did you take me from my family?”

Foolishly, Vincent thought he had escaped having to answer this question.  Unwilling to recap the details of his complicated relationship with Perry Love and Ondine Chauvelin, Vincent, uncharacteristically, lied.

“You were destined to become a vampire and you needed guidance.  Your family was unsuited for that challenge, so I took you away from them in order to teach you.”

Then Vincent decided to add some truth.  “But your parents were good and loving and they were terribly hurt when you were taken from them.  They deserve to see you again if for only one more night.”

“Have I met these people before?” Adam asked.

“You may have seen them around town, but tonight there will be a formal introduction,” Vincent said.  “Your mother, by the way, is a lovely woman.”

Deep within the recesses of his mind, Adam pulled out memories of a woman with a gentle voice, soft hands, and long blonde hair.  He tried to plunge deeper into those memories to see her face, but every time he tried he failed.

“Rest my Son,” Vincent said, “in a few short hours it will be over.”

“Promise me one thing Father,” Adam said, “No matter what happens, you will always be near me.”

“I promise.”  A vampire as confident as Vincent could never imagine that those words were yet another lie.

 

Perry

Placing the carphone back into its cradle, Perry smiled and sunk into the limousine’s leather seats.  He had just found out that a commercial plane left Oslo that morning and had landed in Portland before continuing on to New York.  As he waited in the airport parking lot he craned his neck to catch sight of Astrid for he undoubtedly knew that she was on her way to Nightfall.  He just prayed he would greet her before she caused any serious damage.

Perry didn’t see Astrid, be he did see Bartholomew running to the car.  Actually, Bartholomew, a heavyset man in his early 50s, was not running, but merely speed walking.  It was, however, the fastest Perry had ever seen his driver move.  Bartholomew got into the car, tossed a package wrapped in plain brown paper and christened with a dime-store green and red plaid bow, quickly started the engine, and began to speed out of the airport parking lot.

“I saw the blonde woman,” Bartholomew said breathing heavily.  “She’s waiting for a taxi.”

“Was she carrying anything out of the ordinary?” Perry asked.

“Yes, she was holding a little metal box like it was a baby or something.”

Perry couldn’t conceal his gasp at this news, Astrid actually had created the serum and brought it to Nightfall.

“Follow her,” Perry commanded, “and whatever you do, do not lose her.”

 

Astrid

In the backseat of the airport taxi, Astrid was astonishingly calm for a woman who held the key to “a new and improved immortality” in her lap.  She smiled when she thought of how Perry and the beast would respond to her demands.  Very soon she would be the richest lesbian she knew and although she was preoccupied with her own money-drenched daydream, Astrid did notice the taxi driver glance into the rear view mirror several times.

“Are we being followed?” Astrid asked, then realized how suspicious that statement sounded, and added: “Or has your broken tail light caught the eye of some over eager patrolman?

“I don’t know,” the driver replied.  “The same limo’s been behind us for miles.  You the type of person who would have a reason to be followed?”

“Oh we’re all that type of person if we try hard enough,” Astrid said.  “Just to be on the safe side why don’t you try to lose him.”

“That’ll cost ya a bit more y’know,” the driver replied, not entirely joking.

“Don’t worry, money isn’t a problem,” Astrid retorted.  “Anymore.”

Perry

“Where are they?!” Perry exclaimed, as he practically jumped through the window that separated the front seat of the limousine from the back.

“I don’t know,” Bartholomew replied, breathing even heavier, “I thought they made a left up there, but I can’t find them.”

Acting out of character, Perry didn’t berate Bartholomew for his blunder, but sat back against the cool black leather seats and realized that if Astrid was going to Nightfall there was only one place she would be staying.

“Bartholomew forget about the taxi,” Perry said calmly, “Take me to the Collins Inn.”

 

 

Astrid

“How quaint,” Astrid said when she stepped out of the taxi in front of the Collins Inn, “Why it almost looks Norwegian.”

While she paid the taxi driver his fee, adding an extra thirty dollars for successfully losing the limo, Astrid never once let her tight grip on the little metal box slip.

“Thanks,” the driver replied as he pocketed his cash.  “I hope whatever’s in that box was worth the trip.”

Astrid didn’t answer the man, but merely smiled the way taxi drivers like women to smile and walked into the Inn.  She would take a nice long lavender-scented bath and then make some phone calls.

 

The Collins Inn

Since Dashiell and Llewellyn really don’t have eyes for the girls and Astrid doesn’t have eyes for the boys, they didn’t notice each other as they passed in the entrance room of the Collins Inn.  Furthermore, Dashiell was already thinking about how he needed to get to Jonatha Lassiter before the party started to warn her about Ondine’s plan, and at twenty second intervals Llewellyn kept repeating the phrase “Kill Jonatha Lassiter” just in case Ondine was tuned in to his mind.

When Dashiell opened the front door he felt a warm sensation race through his body, but thought it was just from his nerves.  Then he noticed his hand was severely burnt.

“Bloody hell!” Dashiell screamed as he pulled his hand away from the sunlight and slammed the door.

“Dashiell, you’re hand,” Llewellyn cried.

“Don’t make a fuss,” Dash whispered urgently, “just get me upstairs.”

Llewellyn quickly took off his coat and made Dashiell carry it over his arm so he could hide his scorched hand.  They both walked up the stairs to their room trying to look nonchalant, but not succeeding entirely.  Once they were in their room, Dashiell fell onto the bed in agony as Llewellyn closed all the curtains and then ran for the first aid kit.  They both ignored Ondine who was finishing her third cup of hazelnut coffee.

“I see the change has begun,” Ondine declared.

“Why didn’t you tell me I had to start avoiding sunlight?” Dashiell demanded.

“I have more important things on my mind,” said Ondine wearily.  “And why haven’t you consulted your Father about these things?  He is an expert you know.”

Dashiell was in so much pain he didn’t even have the strength to argue with his mother, which was lucky for Ondine because she didn’t have the strength either.  In fact, when Ondine stood up she faltered a bit and knocked over the china coffee cup before retreating into her own bedroom.

“Good luck on your first feeding,” Ondine said with a tired smile before closing the door behind her.

When Llewellyn had finished treating Dash’s wound with salve and loosely bandaging it, Dashiell finally had the courage to speak.

“I guess this is it, the moment you haven’t been waiting for.”

“Don’t hide behind me if you’re having second thoughts,” Llewellyn responded.  “You knew the day would come when you would have to kill in order to survive.”

“I know!” Dash yelled.  “I just didn’t think it would happen today.  Or that it would come over me so quickly.”

Sweat flooded Dashiell’s forehead and the hunger pains in his stomach made him lurch forward and fall to his knees.  His eyes, so blue a moment ago, were now crimson.

“I need to feed,” Dashiell panted.

The two men had talked about how they would have to adjust to Dashiell’s new lifestyle.  They had already turned the basement of their London townhouse into lightproof sleeping quarters and had an ebony casket imported from Budapest with baby blue silk lining that would complement Dashiell’s platinum blonde hair beautifully, but they had never discussed the intricacies surrounding his feedings.  Llewellyn wanted no part in that dialogue so he was grateful the subject was never broached.  Now, however, he wished they had at least one conversation about what to do when Dashiell was overcome with a raging desire to feed.

“I can’t breathe Lew,” Dashiell whispered.

The knock on the door prevented Llewellyn from responding.

“Um, excuse me, but it’s housecleaning,” Enid Collins said tentatively from the other side of the door.  “I’ve, um, come to, well, change the sheets.”

The two men didn’t have to say a word, they both knew that Enid Collins would be Dashiell’s first victim.  Slowly, Llewellyn walked towards the door and opened it keeping himself behind it so Enid couldn’t see him.  The stout woman walked into the room and forced her eyes to stare at the pile of linens she was carrying in case the boys were once again acting unlike any boys she ever met before.  So when she turned to her right to see Dashiell she was simply relieved that he wasn’t embracing the skinny fellow like he was earlier and it took a moment for her to notice the beads of sweat that dripped off his forehead.  The beads dripped at such perfectly timed intervals that Enid was reminded that she had to fix a leaky faucet in the downstairs bathroom.

“Are you alright?” Enid asked, not yet sensing the dread that would overcome her in just a moment.

Llewellyn shut the door and Enid spun around to see the skinny fellow as Dashiell sprang from the floor and pounced on Enid’s back bringing her crashing to the ground.  Only one scream escaped Enid’s lips before Dashiell clasped his unburned hand around her mouth and wrapped his legs around her waist.  He leaned in so their faces were inches from each other.

“I’m sorry,” Dashiell said.

The novice vampire then yanked Enid’s head to the left as he clumsily plunged his brand new fangs into her throat.  Enid’s body convulsed and her hands slapped against Dashiell in a pathetic attempt to free herself as Dashiell gulped greedily, tearing at the almost dead woman’s neck until all the blood from her body was gone.  Dash held Enid as he felt the blood pump through his body, and he held her tighter when his own body started to convulse in response to the new life that had entered him.  By this time he was drenched and his body emitted a foul, decaying odor, which he knew meant that his human life was ending as his vampire eternity was about to begin.

When he looked up he saw that Llewellyn had been watching the entire scene, and hadn’t recoiled in fear. His love for Dashiell was so deep that he didn’t see the horror of the feeding, only the beauty of life.  Although he looked frail, Llewellyn was definitely the stronger of the two.

“Let me clean you up,” Llewellyn said, as he went into the bathroom to draw Dashiell’s bath.

 

Nightwind

Luckily, only Jonatha and Madeline were in the room when Anthony had another seizure.  Lately, they had been coming with less frequency and Anthony had thought that was a sign that the evil was getting ready to leave Nightfall.  Madeline held his thrashing head firmly so he didn’t bang it on the kitchen floor, while Jonatha held his hands together and searched for the rosary beads in his pants pocket.

Madeline watched with a curiosity that soon turned to awe as Jonatha wrapped the rosary beads around Anthony’s hands and began to pray.  Immediately, Anthony’s body stopped shaking and his breath become steady.

“Uncle Anthony,” Jonatha said, “can you hear me?”

“Yes,” he replied without opening his eyes.

The two women helped Anthony to his feet and then to a seat at the kitchen table.  Madeline searched for the right question to ask, but none came to her that made any intelligent sense.  So she just asked what was on her mind.

“Jonatha,” Madeline said, “What on earth did you do?”

“I prayed to the Blessed Mother to end Anthony’s pain.”

Anthony informed Madeline that this is how he has been surviving these seizures and in fact Jonatha’s interventions have caused the initial pain to lessen each time, until now.  He explained that he hadn’t felt this type of pain since the night Joey disappeared.

“I’m convinced now that my seizures are connected to Joey,” Anthony said.  “I just hope it doesn’t mean tonight will result in disaster.”

In another room of Nightwind another member of the Love family was experiencing an equally painful journey.  Amanda had fallen asleep in Joe’s arms in the drawing room and Joe had put her on the chaise lounge so she could rest for a while.  She was alone now with nothing but her disturbing thoughts.

She was dreaming of the last night that she saw her son.  One second she was holding his hand, the next she saw him running from her into a man’s arms.  Squinting in the darkness she was unable to see who the man was, but she did see him scoop Joey up in his arms and fly into the night.  Undaunted, Amanda began to run after them screaming for the man to release her son.  The man’s laughter echoed in her ears but she continued to run even faster.  When she finally stopped she realized she was at the edge of Serenity Pond.

The pond was eerily quiet and Amanda could only hear the occasional rambunctious cricket and owl in the distance.  She walked around the edge of the pond, stumbling over rocks, but stopped when she heard the distinctive voice of a woman singing a lullaby.  As Amanda got nearer to the voice, she saw Amelia Lawrence sitting at the base of an enormous oak tree, her clothes soaking wet, her hair tangled, and her face distraught and ashen.  One arm was around her husband, James Lowell, whose dead body was resting against her, while her son lay quietly in her other arm.  Amelia smiled at Amanda, but she just kept singing.  After a moment she spoke.

“Look at my baby,” Amelia softly demanded.

Amanda looked at the child, who was also wet and ashen, and saw that he wasn’t breathing.

“He’s my hollow baby,” Amelia said, “My baby has nothing inside.”

Amanda heard herself gasp as she woke up, hoping that she didn’t alarm anyone in the house.  She instinctively clutched her stomach and whispered the first thought that penetrated her conscious mind.

“The woman wants my child’s soul.”

 

 

Friday – Sunset

The Savages

One second after sunset and it was as if it were Christmas morning in the Savage living room.  Vincent and Adam were rummaging through their closets for the perfect outfit, both trying to appear cool and nonchalant and conceal their anxiety and joy from the other.  They were so consumed with their own emotions and wardrobe that they didn’t notice Ondine sitting quietly in one of the antique wing back chairs until she spoke.

“My, my, look at the two of you flutter about.  It’s as if you have a party to attend.”

“Ondine,” Vincent said, “you really should go home and get ‘done-up’ for tonight’s festivities.”

“I am ‘done-up’,” Ondine replied dryly.

“Oh poor dear, you really are at the end of your lifecycle,,” said Vincent, not quite sure if he wasn’t thrilled that Ondine’s lifetime was fast approaching its long overdue end.

Ondine wanted to tell Vincent that even a vampire as powerful as him should watch what he says to an entity who would regain her full strength and quite soon, but instead she asked for his help.

“Vincent,” Ondine said.

“Yes,” Vincent replied, a bit testily.

“Perhaps when the curtain falls on this melodrama, you will have a moment to teach Dashiell the finer points of vampiric life.”

 

Vincent felt as if a persistent mosquito were buzzing next to his ear.  He tried to concentrate on whether or not he should wear the subtle lavender tie or embrace symbolism and choose the dark red Bill Blass, but Ondine’s jabbering echoed in his brain.

“Years ago you made me promise to stay out of Dashiell’s life forever,” Vincent sighed.  “I intend to keep that promise.”

“Do you think that’s wise?” Ondine asked.

“Perhaps it is foolhardy, but I am not afraid of you,” Vincent said.  “Tonight is our night.”

“Ah yes, the night mother and child will finally be reunited,” Ondine said.  “Adam you must be quivering like a little boy.”

Adam didn’t hear Ondine’s comment, because he was trying on his fourth outfit when he realized the second was really the best.  He looked quite handsome in black trousers, a white t-shirt, and a baby blue cashmere cardigan sweater that brought out his blue eyes.  Completely dressed, he entered the living room.

“I’m sorry, were you talking to me?” Adam asked.  “I was getting dressed.”

“Ondine was just wishing you luck tonight and informing you that you have no reason to feel nervous,” Vincent lied, as he finished tying the knot in his tie.

“I am though,” Adam said, “a little nervous anyway.  I’m not sure what to expect.  I don’t even know if I want to meet her and the rest of them.”

Before Vincent could reassure Adam that this meeting was inevitable and would happen regardless of his trepidations, the phone rang.  After a brief, almost covert, conversation Vincent announced that he had to step out to take care of some business.

“Ondine I trust that you will not take up too much of Adam’s time while I am gone,” Vincent said icily.

“No mon cher,” Ondine said.  “I’ll only stay a moment to gather my strength and then return home to reapply my make-up so my appearance is not so garish.”

“You won’t be long will you Father?” Adam asked nervously.

“No, this will not take long,” Vincent said reassuringly.  “Wait for me and we will meet your family together.”

When the door closed behind Vincent it was almost as if the room became hermetically sealed and all the air in the house fled.  Adam found himself uncomfortable being left alone with Ondine and felt the temperature in the room suddenly stifling.

“What do you think your mother will do when she sees you again?” Ondine asked.

“I don’t know,” Adam stuttered.  “I suppose she’ll be happy.”

“Why do you suppose that?” said Ondine as she traced the chair’s floral pattern with a wrinkled finger.

“I guess all mothers would be happy to see a child that they thought was lost to them.”

Ondine chuckled, then replied, “That thought is hopeful and naïve.”

Adam was starting to feel claustrophobic so he opened up a window to let some air into the room.  He breathed deeply before he spoke again and when he did there was an edge in his voice.

“I don’t understand what you’re implying.”

“Not all mortal women are devoted and maternal, some are uncaring and quite apathetic towards their children.”

The nervousness Adam felt when he awoke had tripled and now listening to Ondine’s ramblings he felt a painful pressure build in his chest.

“Will you just say what you want and leave me alone?!”

“Young man, I assure you there is no need to yell,” Ondine said, unable to speak much above a whisper.  “All I want you to know is something your father is too kind to tell you.  If your mother truly cared about you why did she ever lose sight of you in the first place and why hasn’t she ever tried to find you?”

“My . . . my Father explained that he took me from her.”

“No child can be taken unless a parent is being careless.  Your mother has gone on with her life.  She is in love once again, she has raised a daughter, and she is carrying another child who will consume all her time and energy.  The place in her heart that was once reserved for you will be offered to this new child.”

“Why are you saying such terrible things to me?” Adam asked.

“I love your father dearly and I know how tender and hopeful he can be,” Ondine lied.  “I, however, am a realist and I know the truth of the situation you are about to be faced with.  Your mother has moved on and tonight is nothing more than an inconvenience to her.  Yes, you should meet with her, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that a moonlit reunion will lead to anything permanent and everlasting.  Your family begins and ends with your Father.”

Before Ondine left she added one more thing: “I thought someone should be kind enough to allow you to hear the truth.”

 

Any bit of confidence Adam felt earlier had dissolved into a pool of uncertainty.  He felt tears fall down his face as he collapsed into a chair.  He wasn’t sure what he really wanted from tonight’s meeting, but he had thought it might be nice to have a mother again.  Ondine’s words looped in his ears until his tears of confusion gave way to a very clear feeling of anger.

 

The Collins Inn

The sitting room at the Collins Inn was empty so no one saw Perry Love sneak behind the front desk and peak into the reservations book.  He found it ironic that Astrid was booked into the Sunset room and wondered if she chose that room deliberately.

He walked up the stairs trying hard not to make the pine wood creak too much and decided to make a surprise entrance so he didn’t knock before he twisted the doorknob and opened the door.  When he saw Astrid sitting across the table from Vincent, Perry was the only one who was surprised.

“It’s about time you showed up Perry,” Astrid said.  “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Vincent gestured for Perry to sit in the chair to his right, but Perry opted to stand.  He noticed that Vincent was dressed in a beautiful black three-button suit, and wore a blood red shirt and matching tie.  Astrid looked stunning and had poured herself into a chartreuse green silk halter gown with a slit up her right thigh and large emerald and diamond earrings.

“A gift from Mr. Savage,” Astrid said indicating the earrings.  “He’s not even a real man and yet he knows how to treat a lady.”

“Then the two of you have something in common,” Perry replied.

“So ribald for a New Englander,” Astrid laughed.

“You really don’t look like you’re dressed for a party Perry,” Vincent said, “and tonight is such a special occasion.”

“Where is the serum?” Perry demanded.

“Such an angry little man you are Perry,” Astrid said in disgust.  “Always demanding and bellowing.  Well all that’s about to end.  From now on I will be the one making the demands.  Sit next to your son so I can explain to both of you how things will work.”

Perry looked like he was just forced to swallow an extra helping of one of Edwina’s disastrous attempts at cooking.  He sat next to Vincent as if he were sitting next to a poisonous asp that was about to strike.  He was glad he hadn’t yet dressed for the party because he was already starting to sweat through his shirt.

“The good news is that I have brought the serum with me,” Astrid began.

“Where is it?” Perry interrupted.

“Father please don’t interrupt our host,” Vincent said, trying to remain calm although he was as nervous as Perry.”

“Thank you Vincent,” Astrid said.  “Now then, the bad news is I want to be paid for my labor before I give over my precious cargo.  I want five million dollars from each of you.  When I have it I’ll hand over the serum to you Vincent and neither of you will ever see or hear from me again.”

“You will have my five million this evening,” Vincent declared, trying not to seem too impatient.

“I knew a person of your stature wouldn’t leave his money in a bank,” Astrid replied.  “How about you Perry?  How long will it take you to scrounge up five mil?”

“I will also have my share by this evening,” Perry said, “I anticipated that a working girl like yourself would give in to petty greed.”

“Perry,” Astrid said, “now is not a good time to tick me off.  Understand?”

After a brief pause, Perry replied: “Yes.”

“Well I guess our business meeting is done,” Astrid replied rather cheerily as she escorted both men to the door.  “I’ll see you both at the party and afterwards just before sunrise I’ll meet you both in Perry’s private study and hand over the serum to you Vincent.”

“How will I know if the serum works?” Vincent asked.

“You won’t know until your son Adam drinks it and takes a stroll in the morning sun and doesn’t burst into flames,” Astrid replied.  “I believe it works and that’s good enough for me.  If it’s not good enough for you, let me know and I’ll take my serum, and my earrings, and be on the next flight home.”

Vincent felt himself grow hot, not with hunger, but hatred for this human who was far too smug.  The unfortunate part was that Vincent also acknowledged that she was completely in control.

“Ms. Hallström,” Vincent said taking Astrid hand and kissing it, “I trust you implicitly.”

“A vampire and a flatterer.  What more could a girl want?” Astrid replied, no longer frightened of being in Vincent’s company.  “But let me add one more thing before you leave.  If at any time I feel that my life is threatened, I will destroy the serum, and kill you both.  And you can trust me implicitly on that one too.”

Perry and Vincent didn’t have a chance to reply before the door slammed in their faces.

 

Aunt Edwina

Although auburn haired women are advised not to wear pink, Edwina never subscribed to traditional theories of fashion.  Her reddish tresses fell over her shoulders and just touched the top of her strapless pink gown.  She had let her mink wrap drop to the floor just before she buzzed Vincent Savage’s front door and now the cold air enveloped her bare shoulders and cooled some of the heat that emanated from Edwina’s body.  Out here, posing brazenly, she felt like her old self again.  She hoped it would work to woo Vincent into her arms for a quickie before the party got under way when she would be pushed to the side as Amanda and Joe and their wayward son got all the attention.  Her hopes dipped a bit when Adam answered the door.

“Is Daddy home?” Edwina cooed.

“No, but he’s due back in a moment,” Adam said matching Edwina’s tone.  “Why don’t you come in and I’ll warm you up.”

Her curiosity piqued, Edwina entered the house, her mink coat dragging behind her, and noticed an open bottle of wine.  It was half-empty and there was only one glass out.

“You know you’re drinking wine from a champagne glass,” Edwina remarked.

“That’s all I could find,” Adam replied, now noticeably drunk.

“If you want to survive in New England society, you can’t make such a faux pas,” Edwina said, sitting on the couch.

“I can survive anything, I’m immortal,” Adam said, pouring himself another glass of wine.

Something in Adam’s eyes made Edwina bristle.  She had wonderful instincts that she trusted and she sensed that this young man was a trifle dangerous.

“Well I have a party to go to,” Edwina said, standing up.  “Tell your Father I’ll see him there.”

“Don’t give me orders, you’re not my mother!” Adam shouted.

It only took one swift movement for Adam to push Edwina back down on the couch, straddle her, and pin her arms to her side so she couldn’t move.  They stared at each other in silence, and Edwina could smell the wine on Adam’s breath and the musk from his loins.  She knew he was stronger than she was and there was nothing she could do physically to escape.  But Edwina had other talents.

“I didn’t know you were so strong,” Edwina purred.

“What?” Adam said, taken off guard.

“And muscular,” she added as she ground her hips into Adam’s pelvis.

“I thought you wanted my Father?” Adam asked.

“I want a man,” Edwina replied and noticed that Adam’s grip was already loosening.  “Perhaps as much as you want a woman.”

Without warning, Adam buried his tongue in Edwina’s mouth and savored the foreign taste of saliva mixed with lipstick.  His kisses were sloppy and hard and Edwina realized that she was making out with a virgin.  Not one to run from a challenge, Edwina kissed Adam back trying to show him a better technique and as she expected, Adam followed her lead and began to kiss Edwina softer and use his tongue more sparingly.

It wasn’t until Adam was kissing Edwina’s throat that she realized he wasn’t using any force to pin her down.  Now that she was free to escape she really had no desire to leave.  She wasn’t being flippant when she told Adam she wanted a man, she wanted to feel a man’s muscular back and feel her body being worshipped the way it was born to be, so even though Adam was nearly the same age as her daughter, and drunk, she let him continue doing what he clearly was enjoying.

Out of the corner of her eye, Edwina saw Vincent standing near the door.  She smiled at him, completely unashamed, and motioned with her head that he should join his son.  Adam, oblivious to his father’s presence continued kissing Edwina’s neck and biting her ears.  He only stopped when he felt Vincent’s hand on his shoulder.

“Father!” Adam exclaimed.  “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

“Neither can I,” Vincent replied.  “Let us share one last feast?”

Edwina’s left eyebrow rose about an inch just as she felt both sides of her neck being pierced by something sharp.  She couldn’t tell what they were doing to her, but she moaned in ecstasy nonetheless just before she slipped into unconsciousness.

 

 

 

Friday – Evening

Nightwind

The party had begun.  Although it was a small affair, Madeline had made sure the best china and silver were being used and that the few servants who remained were wearing white gloves.  She was trying to push out the disturbing images of this morning’s funeral from her mind and fill it with joyful memories of her grandson.  She was doing a wonderful job until she saw Perry rush into the house.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” Perry said out of breath, “Happy birthday dear.”

Madeline accepted the gift and inspected it’s packaging.  She noticed that the brown wrapping paper reeked of Portland airport.

“Remind me to thank Bartholomew for whatever he picked out for me,” Madeline said as she tossed the gift onto the settee.

“Madeline please,” Perry whined.  “I had to take care of business, I had no choice.”

“We all have choices Perry,” Madeline said, then added: “And very soon I’ll be exercising mine.”

Perry watched his wife walk away from him and although he knew that she didn’t love him, he now realized that she decided to stop acting like she did as well.  He wanted to cry, but he was standing in the hallway and there were servants nearby.  Instead he would change his clothes and prepare to act shocked as his grandson was reintroduced to his family.  He would think about how to deal with his wife when the night was finally over.

On the way up the marble staircase he bumped into Amanda and Joe.  They were both dressed simply, but elegantly.  Amanda was wearing a navy blue swing dress with an empire waist and cream-colored accents, while Joe was wearing his only blue suit with a white shirt and the tartan plaid tie that Jonatha brought back for him from London.  They looked perfect together and Perry felt nothing but envy.  He couldn’t think of one nice thing to say to them so he just smiled and ran up to his bedroom.

At the bottom of the stairs Jonatha introduced them to Ondine, her son Dashiell, and his friend Llewellyn.  She explained that these were her friends from London and Joe was immediately relieved when he realized that the two young men were gay.  He wondered if Jonatha had figured it out yet, but was quite sure Winter had.

When Amanda looked into Ondine’s eyes, she almost cried out.  She found herself staring into the eyes of the raven-haired woman of her dreams.  Immediately she felt herself become lightheaded and she held Joe’s hand tighter.  She heard Ondine’s voice, small and fragile, but could only comprehend fragments of her monologue.  Ondine was an old friend of the family, she once lived in Nightfall, and other bits of information that Amanda couldn’t process at the moment.  All she knew was that this old woman with white hair was somehow the young woman with long raven hair that had been plaguing her dreams.

Reaching out for the banister, Amanda thought she was going to faint if Ondine kept talking.  Just when she thought her senses couldn’t take any more, Edwina ran into Nightwind with an announcement that shut everyone up.

“Amanda!” Edwina shouted waving a white piece of paper in her hand.  “I found another letter on the front steps.”

Amanda rushed to her sister and ripped the letter out of her shaking hand.

“He hasn’t backed out has he?” Joe asked nervously.

“No,” Amanda replied.  “He wants us all to go to the beach where it all began.  Joey will be waiting for us there.”

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