The words Amanda heard were very simple to comprehend. She was four months pregnant. It was a fact that should have made her happy, nervous, perhaps even outraged, but it merely left her numb. After the doctor’s initial announcement, Amanda saw his mouth move, but heard no sound. She also saw her family’s shocked expressions, but couldn’t look into their eyes because it took all the strength Amanda had to concentrate on processing this incomprehensible information. There was absolutely no way that she could be four months pregnant, Amanda wanted to scream, but unfortunately she couldn’t tell her family, especially her sister Edwina, the reason for her certainty: the only man she had sex with was Joe and that was only a week ago. When the numbness subsided, all Amanda could do was laugh.
“That’s absurd,” Amanda heard herself reply. “That’s absolutely impossible.”
“Obviously not,” Edwina said, immediately putting an end to Amanda’s laughter.
“I’m sorry Amanda,” Dr. Saxon said. “I ran the test twice to make sure the fetus wasn’t harmed by your . . . accident. You are pregnant.”
“Jeffrey, are you quite certain it’s four months?” Madeline asked.
“It’s always hard to pinpoint the date, Madeline,” the doctor replied. “But yes I would say Amanda’s in her second trimester.”
While her mother and her doctor conversed and Edwina tried not to convulse, Amanda felt as if the room was spinning and reached out to grab Joe’s hand for support. A part of her subconscious realized this was an inappropriate action while in Edwina’s presence, but the other part of her psyche that was unconcerned about protocol was stronger. Luckily, even though Madeline was speaking with Jeffrey, she was watching her daughter as if she was under a microscope and grabbed Amanda’s hand before it clutched Joe’s arm.
“Jeffrey can we take her home now?” Madeline asked.
“Yes,” he said. “As far as I can see mother and child are doing fine.”
“I wish you would stop saying that,” Amanda said, suddenly frightened. “You’ve made a mistake.”
“Perhaps not,” Joe added quietly.
Although the steps to Nightwind were many and steep, Adam’s preternatural agility allowed him to glide over them in seconds while cradling Winter in his arms and pondering who Joey was. In the entranceway of this magnificent home, Adam bristled when he thought of how weak and insignificant the quarters in which he and his father now lived looked in comparison though he wasn’t sure why. He and Vincent lived well. In fact, throughout his entire life he had never wanted for anything thanks to his father. Yet from the moment his foot touched the steps of Nightwind he had the irrational feeling that all this should be his. He tried not to dwell on that thought, but only deal with the matter at hand: getting Winter back into bed.
He saw red velvet chairs lining the hallway, embroidered damask curtains to his left, and a white marble staircase in front of him and while these material items were all foreign to him he couldn’t escape the feeling of familiarity that enveloped him.
He wasn’t halfway up the stairway when he heard the sound of a young boy’s laughter and stopped abruptly. He turned every which way but saw no one and surmised that the sound was echoing in his own mind. Unable to smell a human scent, he was sure that no one was home, but he didn’t want to be caught by the family when they returned, so he pushed the boy’s laughter from his mind and invaded Winter’s mind to find out where her bedroom was, but he couldn’t penetrate her unconsciousness. He thought it very strange that he couldn’t penetrate her mentally, he thought the only people you couldn’t pierce were family members and those who gave you the gift of the Golden Life. But he was sure there was some logical reason that his father would be able to explain.
He was forced to go room to room until he found what he presumed to be Winter’s bedroom, which naturally was on the top floor. As he gently put Winter in her bed and drew her comforter around her, his eyes met those of a young boy in a photograph on Winter’s night table. The boy couldn’t be more than four-years-old and his smile was so joyful it radiated his entire face with the innocence only a young child could know. Adam wondered how long it was before this child was forced to understand horror.
With one last look at Winter, who seemed to be in the middle of a soothing dream, Adam began to leave but when he passed by the open window he was drawn to the moon’s glow. It was a full moon and it was hanging majestically in the sky. Adam thought it looked like a tunnel that he could fly right through on his way to heaven. He was suddenly filled with such purity that it brought tears to his still-crimson eyes and he remembered, fleetingly, the gentle touch of a woman’s hand. The memory was ripped away when he heard Winter’s piercing voice.
“Who are you?”
Amanda stared into the hopeful eyes of her lover and wondered if she could possibly be carrying his child. Just the thought of it made her heart pulsate with a feeling of overwhelming bliss. But the feeling quickly vanished when she realized it simply couldn’t be true and that tomorrow Dr. Saxon would announce he did indeed make a
mistake. But for this moment she allowed herself to wonder if she could ever again be as happy as she was when she was carrying his children.
Finally, Madeline put herself between Joe and Amanda’s stare and advised Joe to take his wife and daughter home. Joe hated to abandon Amanda especially when it was obvious that she needed him, but his wife and daughter were close by and they needed him as well. He glanced at Edwina whose face was a blank mask behind which lay an anger that would soon be unleashed, and at his daughter who was quite calm despite all the emotional adults around her and was helping Anthony stand.
“Anthony are you alright?” asked Madeline.
“Yes,” he said. “Now I am.”
“Was it another blackout son?” Perry inquired.
“Yes,” Anthony said. “There’s been another murder.”
“What else Uncle Anthony?” Jonatha asked. “Something’s different, I could feel how frightened you were.”
“This time I was able to see the victim’s face,” Anthony said.
“Oh dear God,” Madeline cried.
“Who did you see?” Joe asked.
“It was a policeman,” Anthony said. “David Anderson.”
“No!” Joe cried.
“I’m sorry, Joe,” Anthony said. “He fought back, but it was no use. It was almost as if this killer had superhuman strength.”
“Was it at Serenity Pond?” Joe asked. “That’s where I left him.”
“Yes,” Anthony confirmed.
“I have to go,” he declared.
“I’ll go with you,” Anthony said. “I’d like to perform the last rites.”
“Thank you,” Joe said.
“Anthony,” Madeline asked. “Why did you look so peaceful this time? You didn’t seem to be in any pain.”
“I wasn’t,” he replied. “I was in Jonatha’s care.”
Upon hearing this Edwina shifted her focus from her husband to her Daughter.
“You’re just putting out fires left and right aren’t you honey?” Edwina asked Jonatha.
“I don’t deserve credit for whatever it is I’m doing,” she replied. “I’m not responsible.”
“Jonatha please, you know I don’t have the capacity to dissect metaphysical mutterings,” Edwina said. “I couldn’t master fractions for God’s sake.”
“Soon you’ll understand,” Jonatha responded cryptically. “Soon you all will.”
The young girl’s statement created a silence among the family, a silence filled with curiosity, befuddlement, disdain, and fear. A silence that Anthony felt he needed to respond to.
“Edwina,” he said. “Don’t trivialize what you don’t understand.”
“I’ll do whatever I want,” Edwina began, the continued with mock indignation, “I was in a horrible car accident. How quickly one incident overshadows another.”
“If you’d like I’ll switch places with you,” Amanda said unable to listen to her sister’s tirade any longer.
“Why not?” Edwina said. “It sounds like you’re having more sex than me anyway.”
“Edwina!” Perry cried. “We’re all very tired and I think it’s time we left. Jonatha I’ll take you and your mother home.”
“I’d rather go with . . . my husband,” Edwina said. “But obviously he’s needed elsewhere.”
“I’m sorry,” Joe said.
“That’s alright,” Edwina demurred. “It’ll give me a chance to speak with Amanda in private.”
Joe was too shocked to respond to Edwina’s comment or contemplate its hidden meaning and he ran out of the emergency room without noticing Vincent waiting near the bushes.
“I trust everyone has recovered?” Vincent asked.
The airplane landed smoothly on the runway, but Dashiell’s stomach still felt uneasy. He had originally planned to come to Nightfall, uncover Jonatha Lassiter’s secret, and use it to destroy his mother, Ondine. It was a simple plan and one that he knew he could accomplish with Llewellyn’s help. But when Ondine announced that she would be their travel companion, the plan suddenly became more complicated.
For as long as Dashiell could remember his mother tried to control his life. And even though Dashiell grew to love the extravagant results of her machinations, he resented her interference. Ondine handpicked Llewellyn to be her son’s companion and Dashiell had grown to love him and cherish their relationship. It was also Ondine who introduced Dashiell to the Golden Life and all the magic and power it held, without her he would not be on his way to crossing over and becoming a vampire for all eternity. Still, she was his mother and an extremely domineering one. He wanted her out of his life for good, but until then he would have to listen to her every command.
“Boys grab my bags,” Ondine barked, as one of the flight crew helped her on with her mink coat. “And be careful of my crocodile tote, it has my make-up, and you do want your mother to look beautiful don’t you?”
Not waiting for or expecting a response, Ondine made her exit from the plane leaving Dashiell and Llewellyn to share in the carrying of her bags. As they left the plane they avoided looking into the eyes of the crew members, who regularly cast pitying glances at both men, who had to succumb to Ondine’s wishes without the benefit of a weekly paycheck.
“You realize this will be the worst trip we’ve ever taken,” Llewellyn said.
“If everything goes as I’ve planned,” Dashiell replied. “It’ll be the worst trip my mother has ever taken as well.”
Perplexed, but beaming with pride, Llewellyn followed his lover off the plane.
The Long Road Home
For the first time in quite a while the Love’s limousine was filled to capacity. Vincent sat awkwardly between Perry and Madeline in the seats behind Bartholomew and faced Amanda, Edwina, and Jonatha. Madeline had tried to navigate her granddaughter into the seat between her daughters, but Jonatha had meandered, uncharacteristically, and was the last to enter. Her tardiness, however, allowed her to have a window seat. The young girl
had barely spoken a word since bringing Edwina to the hospital and Madeline wondered if she was hiding something. Amanda stared at Vincent and silently remarked that he was not only very tall, but very odd looking. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but he looked slightly out of proportion.
For the moment, Madeline preoccupied herself with the emotional lives of her daughters. A long time ago she had a made a choice to support Amanda and was therefore not constrained to the usual guilt a mother faces when siding with one child during times of conflict. She firmly believed that Edwina seduced Joe when he was losing a battle against grief after his son’s kidnapping. She also believed Edwina committed this seduction not out of love, but jealousy and spite. It was an act for which she would never be able to forgive Edwina fully.
So consumed was Madeline with watching for the inevitable sparks that would fly between her daughters that she didn’t notice how uncomfortable Perry had grown since they had gotten into the limousine. She would never guess that it was because he was sitting next to the man (who wasn’t really a man) who, was a threatening force. It may have gone unnoticed to Madeline, but not Edwina, who had decided to ignore Amanda for the time being and shower Vincent with attention.
“So Vincent,” said Edwina.
“Yes Mrs. Lassiter,” Vincent replied
“First of all thank you for saving my sister from heaven knows what fate and for entering our lives so dramatically,” Edwina continued. “I was beginning to think you would never show your face and hide in those dreary servants quarters forever.”
Vincent didn’t reply, but only stared at Edwina. In the blackness that made up her eyes, Vincent saw a kindred spirit, a woman who moved forward without ever glancing back. Edwina, he realized, was no Lot’s wife.
“Perry, in all the time I’ve known you, you never mentioned you had such a charming daughter,” Vincent remarked.
Everyone in the limousine, even Amanda and Jonatha who were trying desperately to escape any conversation, was intrigued by this comment. None of them suspected Perry and Vincent of knowing each other before Vincent and his son came to live on Love property. As if on cue, all four women bombarded Perry with questions at the same time.
“Daddy,” Edwina said, “I thought you just met Vincent?”
“Dad,” Amanda added, “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Grandpa?” Jonatha asked, “Do you also know Adam?”
“Perry,” Madeline said, “Do you and Mr. Savage have a relationship that I’m not aware of?”
Vincent smiled an inhuman smile and slowly turned to Perry, whose face was as white as Eucharist, pausing before he spoke.
“Shall you explain it to them, Perry or shall I?”
When Adam turned to face Winter, the first thing she noticed were his crimson-colored eyes and she had the vague memory of seeing the same eyes once before, but she couldn’t recall when. Looking at the rest of his tall, muscular body she slowly became frightened
by the reality that this intruder appeared to be much stronger than she was and could be violent.
“I said who are you?” Winter asked again less harshly than before.
“My name is Adam Savage. I’m your neighbor.”
Winter knew the name, but having never seen the face, she wasn’t entirely convinced.
“What are you doing here?”
“I found you in the woods, asleep or unconscious, and I decided not to let you die so I brought you here. And you’re welcome.”
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“I don’t care if you believe me or not, that’s what happened.”
“If you knew who I was you wouldn’t be talking to me with that attitude.”
“I know exactly who you are. You’re Winter Lassiter, Perry Love’s granddaughter and Jonatha’s step-sister or cousin depending on which side you look at it. And let me tell you, she’s a lot nicer than you are.”
“Oh please! Jonatha is so boring! You would think she’s cool.”
” Obviously you’re jealous of your own flesh and blood,” replied Adam, surprised by his desire to defend Jonatha’s name.
“Jealous? Like not much. I think you better get out of here right now before I scream for my mother.”
“Go right ahead, there’s nobody home.”
For the next ten minutes Winter and Adam continued to banter as if they’d known each other their entire lives. Winter accused Adam of being a blind jerk for liking Jonatha, and Adam accused Winter of being a spoiled rich girl. Adam was highly annoyed by this encounter, but also felt that it was natural and was amused by the spontaneity of their repartee. Winter just wanted him to leave.
Adam turned to go, but once again his eyes glanced on the photograph of the young boy.
“Who’s that?” he asked.
“Oh I thought you knew everything about me. That’s my brother, he was kidnapped when he was four and I haven’t seen him since,” Winter said. “And I don’t care if I ever do.”
“He probably can’t wait to see you again,” Adam said just before he left Winter’s room.
The Long Road Home
“We are waiting for some kind of explanation,” Edwina said and for once her sister, mother, and daughter all agreed with her.
“Mr. Savage and I are business associates,” Perry said trying desperately to ignore the small beads of sweat that began to form on his forehead.
“Vincent didn’t I hear that you’re a professor of ancient civilizations?” Amanda asked.
“That’s correct,” Vincent replied.
“Then how in the world could you be in business with my Father?” Amanda said. “Love Industries is in the pharmaceutical business.”
“Perry may I continue?” Vincent asked.
The last thing in the world Perry Love wanted to do was give this creature free reign to converse with his family, but he was at a loss for words and, as usual, he overestimated his ability to control a situation so he agreed.
“Thank you,” Vincent said. “I am an expert on ancient civilizations and that includes their scientific and medicinal cures. Many of these cures, especially those of the early Egyptian times, are applicable to today’s diseases primarily the blood disorders that Love Industries is working so hard to combat. Your father and I were introduced to each other by a colleague years ago and realized my expertise could help Perry uncover little known herbs and roots that could be used to forward modern medicine.”
“So you must be familiar with the laboratory in Stockholm?” Madeline asked.
“You must be referring to the one in Oslo?” Vincent countered.
Madeline smiled begrudgingly, then added: “Just testing you.”
“What a sad fate has befallen you Perry,” Vincent declared. “The women in your life may be charming, but it seems they’re also quite suspicious.”
To Dashiell and Llewellyn the Collins Inn was charming and rustic and exactly what they thought of when they imagined a New England bed and breakfast. Ondine shuddered when she remembered that at one time she too thought this Inn was romantic and delightful. Then again at that time she was beingembraced by Perry’s young, enthusiastic arms.
“Do try to get some sleep boys, we’ll be paying a surprise visit on the Loves tomorrow and we don’t want to look worn out.”
With a mischievous smirk, Ondine walked up the wooden staircase, which creaked with her every step.
“Someone really should fix this stairway,” Ondine cried. “Visitors should only be announced by a white-gloved butler!”
The young men entered their room and before the door closed behind them they were wrapped in each other’s arms. They kissed quietly, but intently, and fell sideways onto the large king-sized bed. Eucalyptus branches spilled from a vase on the nightstand and their scent, combined with the crisp, fresh air from the slightly opened window made Dash and Llewellyn drowsy. But not drowsy enough to explore each other’s body thoroughly. They never mentioned it, but they knew it would be quite some time before
they would be intimate again.
Father and Daughter
The first thing Edwina did when she entered Nightwind was pull Perry into the greeting room adjacent to the more frequently used front room, and away from the rest of her family. She closed the large French doors behind them so they could have some privacy. It was one of the few moments in her life when she was more confused than angry and
she needed her father’s guidance to help her sort out her emotions. Swimming around in her mind’s eye were the following images: Joe and Amanda making love, Vincent staring lustfully at Amanda, and Vincent and Perry conspiring together in her father’s office. Edwina didn’t like being confused and she was going to put an end to it.
“What the hell is going on, Daddy?” Edwina seethed.
“Your sister,” Perry began. “Obviously has a life kept secret from the rest of this family.”
“Like you don’t?” Edwina retorted. “You don’t think any of us bought Vincent’s carefully worded, but lame, speech do you?”
“What he said was the truth?” Perry stammered.
“Save your indignation for later,” Edwina said. “Right now I want to know what you’re going to do to end this thing between Joe and Amanda.”
“Your sister and your husband have been getting sentimental lately,” Perry said. “But I do not believe it’s been going on for four months.”
“I don’t either, I’m sure I would have suspected something earlier,” Edwina said. “I mean let’s face it Amanda isn’t as clever as me.”
“Agreed,” Perry said. “Well I guess this is the perfect time for Amanda to visit New York.”
Perry, like Madeline, had long ago chosen to align with one daughter over the other. He chose to support Edwina, not because he thought she needed an ally or because he thought she deserved a chance at happiness, but because she was more vindictive and he didn’t want to do battle with her.
“Perfect,” Edwina declared. “Send her off to oversee the Love Foundation and let me remind Joe that he already has a wife, a daughter, and a reputation that he could lose with one well-worded press release written on Love stationery.”
“I fear Joe will never lose Nightfall’s respect,” Perry said.
“If Joe decides he still needs to sow that last wild oat with my sister,” Edwina said. “I guarantee that I will destroy him. I will not lose the man I fought so hard to take.”
“I’ve always said that you’re the most honest of all my children,” Perry said.
“I’m also curious,” Edwina responded. “What’s going on between Amanda and Vincent Savage?”
Just hearing the name of his enemy made Perry’s spine weaken. He didn’t accept Vincent’s explanation that it was mere coincidence that he found Amanda laying on the beach, he knew that Vincent was somehow responsible for Amanda’s collapse. But he couldn’t risk saying anything more to Edwina about his relationship with the vampire. While Edwina had done some unscrupulous things in her life, not even she would be able to understand or forgive Perry for his past actions concerning Vincent.
“I sensed something between them,” Edwina said. “Something primitive.”
“You’re not suggesting that they’ve been physical with each other?” Perry asked, undeniably shocked.
“Oh Daddy, please don’t blush,” Edwina retorted. “Your two daughters have had sex with the same man, and if my suspicions are correct, your only son wouldn’t mind a go at him either.”
“Now you’re talking nonsense!” Perry chaffed.
“Vincent and Amanda have some sort of connection,” Edwina declared. “I’m not sure what it is, but I will find out. And obviously I’ll have to do it without your help.”
“But . . . but . . . ” Perry stammered.
“Don’t stutter Daddy it’s not becoming,” Edwina said. “Now I think it’s time you ordered Amanda to fly to New York.”
Abruptly, Edwina opened the French doors to reveal Madeline and Amanda sitting on the settee and talking quietly in the hallway. Madeline stopped speaking in mid-sentence when she saw Edwina and made no attempt to resume her conversation making it very clear that what she had to say was not for Edwina’s ears.
“Forgive me for interrupting,” Edwina cooed. “But Daddy has an announcement.”
“Couldn’t it keep until tomorrow, Perry?” Madeline asked. “We’re all very tired.”
“No, it’s pressing business,” Edwina responded, “as they say in business. Good night all. I’m going to pay Mr. Savage a visit and thank him for saving my sister. And Amanda, have fun in New York.”
By the time Joe reached David’s corpse, the paramedics had already covered it and laid it on a stretcher. Aimee’s decaying body was also covered and on a stretcher next to David’s. Joe shook his head in dismay and felt incredibly tired. Even in moments of great personal despair he could count on his professional life to offer security and stability, until now. His mind jumped to a time over a decade ago when the same types of killings plagued Nightfall and he knew that he would soon have to go public with this very disturbing information. However, he did command a great deal of respect so he could delay that from happening until he felt the town, and he, were ready.
He pulled the white cotton sheet from what he was told was David’s body and saw his colleague’s face. David’s jaw was still strong, his nose still slightly bent to the left, but the color was completely drained from his face and Joe could even see the bluish veins through his skin. He took a deep breath and turned David’s face to the left and saw the telltale puncture wounds in his neck. How could he tell his fellow officers and
innocent townspeople that a vampire was in their midst? Standing over the two dead bodies, he vowed that the only way he would share the news to anyone would be to also tell them that he wouldn’t rest until he found the vampire and killed him.
Amanda, Madeline, and Perry all looked at the front door that Edwina slammed shut behind her with the same shocked expression, but all for their own particular reasons. Amanda intuitively knew that New York meant working with the Love Foundation, Madeline thought visiting a stranger at such a late hour was in poor taste, and Perry feared that Vincent would reveal his true identity to Edwina. He was about to succumb to the urge to run after his daughter and force her to stay away from Vincent when he heard his wife shouting his name.
“Perry, Perry!” Madeline cried. “What is Edwina talking about?”
“Before you even say another word Dad,” Amanda said. “I have no intention of going to New York.”
Perry felt as restless and frustrated as a laboratory mouse lost within a maze, and unleashed his anger onto his eldest daughter.
“Yes you will! You’re the head of the Love Foundation, there’s a crisis in New York, and that’s where you’re going to go. Tonight!”
Amanda stared at Perry shaking her head in disbelief. “Absolutely not! There is no way that I’m getting on a plane to deal with a business situation tonight, tomorrow, or next week. Were you paying any attention at the hospital Daddy?”
“Of course I was,” Perry said. “You’re pregnant, which doesn’t mean you can’t fly.”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this!” Amanda cried. “Are you that ignorant that you can’t see how devastating this is to me? If you’d pay attention to me as well as you pay attention to Edwina, you would have heard me tell the doctor that it’s impossible that I’m four months pregnant.”
“Yes I heard what you said to the doctor,” Perry replied. “And so did Edwina.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Madeline asked.
“Amanda would you care to explain?” Perry said.
The three adults were so focused on each other that they didn’t hear Winter walk onto the landing. After her encounter with Adam she was unable to fall back to sleep and the adults in her family were too preoccupied to keep their voices down. With one glance Winter understood that her mother and her grandparents were having an argument. And by the shrill sound of Amanda’s voice, she could tell it was an important one.
“Is that what Edwina’s been filling your head with behind closed doors?” Amanda shouted.
“I have my own eyes and ears, I don’t need any help to see what’s been going on in my home,” Perry said.
“This is ludicrous,” Amanda said. “I’m not having this discussion.”
“Fine, then just pack your bags and leave for New York tonight!” Perry said, grabbing Amanda’s arm.
“I told you I’m not going anywhere!” Amanda screamed. “I’m four months pregnant and I have no idea how I’m in this condition. And I have a daughter upstairs who doesn’t even know yet. How the hell can you ask me to leave town when I haven’t even had a chance to break the news to her?”
“I’ll explain everything to Winter,” Perry said.
“Like hell you will!”Amanda yelled. “It’s time I started being more honest with my daughter. So don’t expect me to leave just because you say so!”
“Don’t use me as an excuse Mother!” Winter cried from the balcony.
“Winter!” Amanda cried.
Standing in her nightgown, clutching the cold marble of the balcony, Winter was in the rare position of having her family’s complete attention so there was no chance she was going to let the moment pass.
“I can’t remember the last time you were honest with me, or with any of us!” Winter shouted down to her mother.
“Winter, let me explain,” Amanda begged. “I just found out.”
“And did you just find out that you’re going to be reunited with Joey?” Winter said very pleased with herself. “That’s right Mother, I know all about the last letter!”
An Expected Visitor
The secret tunnel from Nightwind to the old servant’s quarters took less than fifteen minutes to walk through, but by the time Edwina stood on Vincent’s front porch her cheeks were flushed and her heart was dancing. She felt positively giddy. Edwina never ignored her instinct and ever since she laid eyes on Vincent Savage, her instinct told her that he and her sister were involved. How, she didn’t know, but she was about to find out.
Confidently, she knocked on the door and almost immediately, almost as if he were waiting, Vincent opened the door. Tall and other-worldly he stood in front of her without the faintest look of surprise on his unlined face. Edwina, for the first time in almost two decades, felt self-conscious as Vincent’s eyes traveled languidly from her face to her chest and lower. Involuntarily she rubbed her thighs together feeling a welcomed heat grow from within her, but somewhere from deep within her scarred soul she felt she might have made a mistake coming to this stranger’s door. The heat in her loins was stronger so she chose to stay right where she was.
“Edwina,” Vincent said with a smile. “I knew I would see you again.”
He motioned for her to enter his home and she obeyed, allowing her breast to rub against his chest, which she was delighted to feel was hard as stone. She quickly surveyed the room and realized he had chosen to leave all the old furniture exactly where it was and not clutter the room with mementos, which made her smile as she adored men without any personal baggage. Tossing her wrap on the French Provincial couch, she turned to
Vincent and was struck by his unique beauty.
“Have you slept with my sister?” Edwina inquired.
Winter’s accusation drifted down from the balcony like a reluctant leaf falling from a tree in late autumn. Madeline stared at Amanda with hopeful eyes, while Perry merely stared, but both longed for an explanation. It took Amanda a moment to comprehend what Winter meant since all the confusion surrounding the current child she was carrying had overshadowed the turmoil surrounding her first born.
“Tell them Mother!” Winter shrieked. “Tell them about the last thank-you letter, the one you’ve been hiding from everyone.”
“Amanda, please, what is going on?” Madeline asked softly.
“It’s true,” Amanda managed between swift intakes of breath. “The last thank-you note I received was different.”
“But you told us it was just like all the others,” Perry questioned.
“We didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up,” Amanda said.
“We?” Madeline asked.
“Joe and I thought it best to keep it to ourselves until we had proof that we would see our son again.”
“Have you heard anything else from the kidnapper?” Perry asked.
“No, nothing,” Amanda said. “Winter that’s why we didn’t say anything. We knew it could be a hoax, that it might never come true.”
“But that’s all you can think about isn’t it? Your other child!” Winter accused. “And now you’re pregnant with another one! Where the hell does that leave me?”
Amanda cried out for her daughter and ran up the marble staircase, but the moment she moved, Winter ran back to her room and locked herself in. Madeline could hear Winter’s sobs mingled with Amanda’s pleas to let her enter Winter’s bedroom, but was powerless to stop the pathetic sounds. Perry’s mind was so filled with his thoughts of Joey, Edwina, and Vincent that he couldn’t hear a sound from upstairs. In fact, when Madeline spoke he was startled.
“I always said that Winter would have been luckier if she had been kidnapped too.”
An Expected Visitor
Humans never ceased to amaze Vincent.
“I said have you slept with my sister?” Edwina repeated.
“A girl with an original opening line,” Vincent said. “I find that provocative.”
“A man with an evasive answer,” Edwina replied. “I find that challenging.”
Feeling a bit more comfortable in the room and much more comfortable in her own skin, Edwina moved closer to Vincent as she continued to interrogate him.
“Now tell me Mr. Savage,” Edwina purred. “Have you ravaged my sister?”
“Are you jealous?”
“Come closer,” Vincent said, enjoying the game Edwina had begun.
Edwina stood inches in front of Vincent and peered up to look into his eyes. She felt weightless as Vincent’s hot breath caressed her face and his wicked grin made her close her eyes with anticipation. Ever since she was a young girl she wanted what her sister had, thinking that if she could touch what Amanda touched maybe she could be as special. She didn’t realize it, but now in the powerful spell of this extraordinary man she was going to get something before Amanda did.
Vincent willed Edwina’s eyes to open and they did. They were filled with such an odd mixture of school girl innocence and street walker apathy that Vincent laughed in her face and broke the preternatural spell he had over her. Edwina responded the same way she always responded when someone laughed in her face, her face coiled into a mask of fury and she lashed out physically. However, Vincent was unlike anyone else who had ever laughed at Edwina so his reaction was unlike any Edwina had ever encountered.
Before Edwina’s red-polished nails could gouge Vincent’s cheek, he grabbed both her arms and pinned them against her side so she couldn’t move. Terror creeped up from that part of her soul that had tried to warn Edwina about this man and although she opened up her mouth to scream only silence emerged. Vincent responded by allowing himself to transform in front of her. His face contorted into an elongated shape, the skin becoming tougher, his eyes turned completely crimson and finally his teeth became sharp fangs that hung over his thin blood-red lips. Edwina’s eyes widened in horror as Vincent pulled Edwina close to him, plunging his teeth into her neck with more force than he usually allowed himself.
Her blood had the robust flavor he cherished and he had to remind himself that he only wanted to sample her offering, not deplete her of her entire supply. He had found his own personal fountain of blood and he wanted to taste her over and over again. Edwina didn’t realize it but she had just become a reservoir for Vincent Savage, a vessel he could return to again and again to graze and guzzle before and after the hunt. He would heal her wounds each time and she wouldn’t remember their encounters. By coming to Vincent’s home willingly, Edwina had unwittingly agreed to play a very special role in his life.
Vincent held Edwina’s head in his large hands and licked a few wayward drops of blood that began to slide down the side of her thin, graceful neck. Edwina roused without opening her eyes and mumbled, “Who are you?”
Vincent paused then bent closer to her ear and whispered: “I am your brother.”