tales of the daywalkers (week 21)
Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 20)
“So…if he wasn’t there, what took you so long?” We had been riding in silence, so the sound of my voice nearly startled me as it interrupted the rhythmic battering of rain on the roof of the car.
Claude stole a sideways glance at me, but said nothing.
“Seriously…” I went on. “You were in there for forty-five minutes.”
“Thirty,” he corrected me. “He was supposed to be coming right back, so I waited.”
I nodded and went back to staring out the window. Sebastian would most definitely stake us both for our treachery. Not only did we leave him behind, susceptible to the harsh rays of the sun, but we took his car to make our escape. It wouldn’t matter where we went. Or why we did it. He would hardly accept an excuse or an apology. At least if we were coming back with the amulet he would be mollified. As things were, we would be lucky to survive until dusk.
“Did you discover where he’d gone?” I asked.
I raised my eyebrows to stare at him for a moment. “You’re kidding, right? Elton John? Did you find out where Elton John had gone?” I squirmed in my seat. “Maybe we should go back and wait.”
One side of Claude’s mouth curved into a grin leaving the other side in an unreadable scowl. He looked like a sinister version of a comedy and tragedy mask. “I left a message for him to call me when he gets in.”
My gaze drifted back to the window, but my thoughts were focused on Claude’s impassive demeanor.
“I should have gone myself.” I had no sooner had the thought when I caught myself saying it out loud.
“What good would that have done? He wasn’t there.” Claude ran his index finger repeatedly over his lower lip until I was afraid he might rub it off. When he finally paused to look at me, he grinned. “The amulet probably isn’t in the apartment anyway. Why would it be?”
“Why would it be? Where else would it be?”
“He doesn’t live in Atlanta full time. Who knows where he would have stashed it.”
“You said before he would still have it…it would be in his home.”
“Sure, but he has homes all over the world, right? Why would it be here and not somewhere else?”
Claude had a point. One I wasn’t at all happy to accept. If the amulet wasn’t even in Atlanta, we had far more trouble in our hands than we knew what to do with.
The rest of the ride home was managed in complete silence. The rain had slowed to barely a drizzle and a dense fog seemed to ooze from the wet pavement.
My footsteps echoed against the marble floors as I crossed the empty foyer. If my heart had not been silent for over two centuries, it would have thundered in my ears as I took in the utter destruction in my path.
I carefully righted an overturned table as I surveyed the shards of broken glass beneath it. Vases that had once been filled with fresh flowers on a daily basis now lay in pieces all around me. Framed oil paintings, some of them older than me, were scattered like a house of cards that had blown over.
“Sebastian?” I spoke carefully, as if summoning a rabid animal. “Sebastian, are you here?”
The floor above me creaked and I was sure my bones would flee my skin. Something akin to a high-pitched shriek escaped my lips before I could pull it back.
“What is it?” Claude rushed to my side, fangs exposed.
“I don’t know. I heard something move upstairs, but if it’s Sebastian, he’s not answering.”
Claude surveyed the wrecked room. “Did he do this?”
My head bobbed once and I lowered my voice to a whisper. “His scent is on everything. I can even smell his rage.”
The floorboards above us creaked again, and as if on command, we both shifted our eyes upward.
“Sebastian?” My voice trembled.
The footsteps above were making their way to the stairs. I steeled myself for whatever was coming.
“Do you smell that?” Claude tipped his head back, sniffing the air.
I followed his lead, just then catching an unusual aroma. It wasn’t unpleasant. In fact, it was almost familiar…as if I should recognize it…but not quite. I would have noticed it immediately if the pure rage present in Sebastian’s scent hadn’t completely distracted me.
“I’m not sure what that is…but whatever it is, it’s not good.”
The footsteps stopped at the top of the stairs and I choked on my breath.
“Victoria…you’re back,” Sebastian flashed a strained smile. “I was worried about you.”
I frisson of fear cut through me. Sebastian should be angry. He should be shaking the walls with more of the fury I still tasted in the air. But he was calm…and he was anxious. I had never seen Sebastian anxious. Something was very wrong.
Sebastian descended the stairs slowly, each foot placed precisely in front of the other. “Did you get it?”
I didn’t have to ask what it was.
“No.” I said.
“Good,” he mouthed, and his entire countenance relaxed.
Even as his body relaxed, mine went rigid. Just as I recognized the familiar scent, I heard footsteps behind me.
I turned slowly to face him, my lips struggling to form a smile. “Hello Father.”