Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 9)
Dry leaves crunched under a pair of well-worn athletic shoes as my quarry ran through the deserted park. The faint whisper of music played through tiny earphones, but it didn’t interest me enough to tune into the song. Instead, I was consumed by the rhythmic pounding of her heart as blood rushed through her veins, and the change in the atmosphere as her lungs expelled white clouds of breath in metered blasts. The runner was fearless even as the deep velvet shadows enveloped her. She had no idea I was behind her.
Effortless strides kept me close, but far enough away to keep from drawing attention to myself…until I was ready. And I wasn’t ready just yet.
My tongue darted out to taste the air. The cool night was flavored with sweat…sweet and salty…along with a trace of lavender skin and rosemary hair…and warm, damp cotton. My fangs shot out, pricking my lip. The coppery flavor did nothing to suppress my growing hunger. As her feet pounded the hard ground, I closed the gap between us. My breath invisible…my heart still.
I needed the hunt to take my thoughts away from Sebastian and Claude…and the daywalking.
To think Sebastian expected anyone to believe he had traveled so far without more than a day’s worth of his potion was ridiculous. Claude was right to accuse him. I would have done it myself if he hadn’t said something first.
“Lies!” Claude’s face twisted into a mask of fury I had never seen before as he faced Sebastian in my kitchen. “I don’t buy it. Not for a minute.”
A sly smile flickered at the corners of Sebastian’s mouth. “Your distrust is understandable, but misplaced. I don’t have the required ingredients.”
My mouth hung open as I watched Claude pick through the plants. Sebastian leaned calmly against the far wall, seemly unaffected by the display of rage he was witnessing.
“Why would you come all this way without enough of your tonic to make it through more than a few days? Especially when this so called ingredient is so hard to come by?” Claude gripped the edge of the counter so fiercely, I was sure the marble would crumble in his hand.
Sebastian pushed away from the wall to pluck a sprig of oleander from my fingers. “The drink must be made fresh each day and I had no idea I would be supplying tonic to so many.” He crushed the oleander into a fine dust and brushed it into a pot of water.
“So what do we do now?” I wanted to ask who would sleep in the casket while the other two walked freely in the day. I wondered what plan percolated behind Sebastian’s calm façade. I was in full agreement with Claude…there was something he wasn’t saying. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know.
“Your fledgling can stay in while we go fetch the amulet.”
“Oh no he won’t.” Claude chipped off a corner of the marble and let it fall.
I quickly stepped between them as my eyes darted from Claude to Sebastian. “I don’t know where the amulet is…I’ve told you that.”
“And I’m not inclined to tell you just so you can retrieve it…then open the lid with the sun high in the sky,” Claude said.
Sebastian had the audacity to bat his thick lashes at me. “Now, Victoria…would I do something like that?”
“You know damn well you would do something exactly like that,” Claude answered.
“Is your name Victoria?” Sebastian frowned.
“Can’t we stretch the formula enough to get three doses? It’s October…the sun sets earlier every night,” I said.
“It’s a dangerous risk. One I’m not inclined to take. Well, not with my skin.” Sebastian grinned widely at Claude. “Maybe yours.”
“You’re going to have to come up with something, Sebastian. You have less than twelve hours to figure it out. I’m hungry…I need to feed.” I turned on my heels and strode out of the room.
That was three hours and two runners ago. And I still hadn’t fed.
I let the first two go when it was apparent something was off about them. My penchant for the perfect meal was always my undoing. There was too often a hint of an unpleasant disease, or perhaps a fondness for chemicals, that tainted the blood. But my current prey…I sniffed the air again…was perfect.
I circled around through an outcropping of trees to arrive further down the path ahead of her, where I waited, leaning against a mature sycamore. A smile split my face as I thought about her reaction. What would she think to see a slight young woman dressed in a form-fitting silk sheath and bare feet in a remote section of the park after dark? Would she be afraid? It wasn’t likely. She would be shocked, I was certain; although, my manner of dress was inconsequential to me. I was just as comfortable in anything as nothing. But dressed as I was, I was well aware I looked fragile. I wasn’t.
As I expected, she came around the trees and skidded to a slow stop as soon as she saw me. Her eyebrows pulled together for an instant then she smiled. “Are you lost?”
I tilted my head slightly to the side but said nothing.
She looked around and when she saw no one else she approached me tenuously. Her brows knitted together this time and she lowered her voice as if she was speaking to a small child. “Are you hurt?”
I pulled away from the tree fluidly. “I’m fine.” My smile faltered slightly as the first whiff of fear crossed my path. “I’m just so hungry.”
Until the next time…I’ll be getting ready for Halloween!