tales of the daywalkers (week 22)
Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 21)
Could my blood run any colder than it already was? It certainly seemed that way as I stared into the face of the man who was once my father.
“It’s been a long time.” I shifted my eyes carefully between Sebastian’s stony expression and my father’s open smile.
“It certainly has.” Father pulled me into a tight embrace then held me out at arm’s length for an inspection. “Let me look at you. Ah, exactly the same as when I last saw you. Perhaps a bit less…fresh.”
His eyes darted to Sebastian and they shared a grim smile.
“But, yes…just the same I would say.” He drew me into another stiff hug, releasing me only when he realized we weren’t alone. “Who is this?” He spoke directly to Claude.
“That would be Victoria’s manservant,” Sebastian said.
“How interesting.” Father clucked his tongue and nodded his approval.
“So, what brings you here, Father?” I crossed my arms in front of me and waited.
“Sebastian knows why I’m here,” he said casually.
I stole a quick glance at Sebastian and noticed the tendons in his jaw flex.
Claude stepped around me. “Why don’t you share with the whole class…what brings you to our fair city?”
My father’s eyes tightened as he scrutinized the newest vampire. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“You would be correct. We haven’t. But I must say…your reputation precedes you.”
“Reputation?” Father looked from Sebastian’s poker face to mine. “Whatever do you mean?”
A slow smile crept across Claude’s features. I knew him well enough to recognize it for what it was, a thinly veiled sheet of anger. “What kind of father bargains his daughter’s life for immortality? Better yet…what sort of man does any type of business with the soul-less one here?” Claude thumbed in Sebastian’s direction.
My father laughed at that. “I like you. You’re quite amusing. I’m not surprised my daughter keeps you around.”
“Father, you’re avoiding my question. Why are you here?” I interrupted.
“Victoria, you wound me. Haven’t you missed your father these long years?” He held his hands out to me, as if I should run into them for another insincere embrace.
I stood my ground, teeth clenched, arms wrapped tightly around my chest and waited until the fragile smile on his lips slipped away, and his arms dropped to his side.
“Fine. Impertinent child.”
“I’m no longer a child, Father. Despite my appearances, of course. Only my body has been frozen in time. I can assure you, my mind has vastly matured.” I steeled myself for the onslaught that never came and headed for the stairs.
I turned to face Sebastian. His expression had softened and a smile played with the corners of his mouth. I raised both eyebrows in response.
“Could I speak with you? In private?” His gentle tone caught me off guard.
I nodded, giving a quick glance backwards at Claude and my father as I allowed Sebastian to grasp my hand and lead me up the stairs. I had to bite my cheek to keep from smiling at the look on Claude’s face.
Father’s face was unreadable.
Sebastian hurried me down the long hall into my room and closed the door behind us. “What the Hell is going on?” I asked. But before I could continue, Sebastian pressed a finger to my lips and tugged me to the shiny white casket in the center of the room.
“In,” he demanded as he threw the lid open.
My mouth fell open of its own accord and Sebastian lifted my chin until it was shut again.
“Just get in and I’ll explain.”
“I’m not getting in there so you can lock me in!”
Sebastian rolled his eyes…then climbed into my casket. “Now will you get in?” he asked, beckoning me with his eyes.
With a grunt I threw a leg over the side and heaved myself in beside him. “This is stupid,” I mumbled as I pulled the lid shut, closing us both inside.
The darkness surrounded us and I had to admit, I had almost missed the cozy darkness of my old companion, the A666.
My mouth opened with an audible pop. “That had better be a stake in your pocket!”
“Victoria, please! This is serious.” Sebastian whispered.
“You’re damn right it is. Since when are you so afraid of my father? You’re his maker…shouldn’t he be afraid of you?”
“Do you remember when I first got here and I told you I needed the amulet?”
“Of course, I remember. You said you stole the day walker formula and you needed the amulet to bargain your way out of being staked, or something equally horrible. But I fail to see what any of this has to do with my father.”
“I stole the formula from your father…in Paris. It was quite brilliant if you must know. He put his trust in me implicitly. There was only one copy of the formula…the original. That’s what I took. He was furious, of course.” Sebastian paused as if he was waiting for me to speak, but I was too dumbfounded to say anything. “I fled the next day while he slept. I should have taken the last vials of the formula before I left…clearly I underestimated his resourcefulness.”
“What are you saying? My father is some sort of vampire gangster? This is ridiculous!”
“No, of course not. Your father is much the same as he always was. A merchant. He sells antiquities and rare finds.”
“So what would make you suddenly terrified of a merchant?”
Sebastian snorted out a laugh. “I am hardly afraid of your father. But unfortunately, he has within his possession a particular rarity that could make things a bit uncomfortable for me in the future. And if I don’t return the day walker formula…and the amulet…he has threatened to leverage this item against me. And as I’ve already said, I would be nothing but a pile of ash.”
“And why should I care if someone dusts you? Seriously, it might make my life a whole lot easier to just vacuum you from the rug and be done with you.” I held back a snicker.
Even in the total darkness, I could feel Sebastian grinning. “Because my love…if I go to dust, anyone I’ve made will go to dust with me.”
I sat up before I remembered where I was and banged my head on the lid. “What?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“But why would my father do that? He would be turned to dust as well. I would think that would be the first thing you told him. ‘Hey, Daddy dearest, it’s a, you dust me I dust you, sort of arrangement.’”
“Tempting. But unfortunately, your father has immunity.”
I suddenly realized I should have asked about these details centuries ago. “Exactly how does someone gain immunity?” I desperately wanted to shove my hands on my hips and glare at him.
“Your father drank from one of the First.”
My mouth fell open again and without missing a beat, Sebastian closed it.
“We really don’t have time for me to go into this right now. Your father has basically gone over my head.”
I was beginning to feel like I was in an elaborate board game. And I was tired of being trapped in a box with my sometimes husband. “So what do we do now?”
“We make sure he doesn’t find the amulet before I do. And then we need to find my letter…it has the key to the amulet hidden within the text.”
I was afraid to ask. “What letter?”
Sebastian exhaled loudly. “An old love letter.”
“My letter?” I asked.
“Of course.” Sebastian cupped my cheek. “I’ve never written a letter to any other.”
A frisson of fear crept down my spine. We wouldn’t find the letter…it had been burned to ash in an alley. “I need to talk to Claude.”
Sebastian’s fingers stiffed against my face but he said nothing. “Fine. He seems to be the only one of us who knows where the amulet might be.”
I pushed against the lid until it fell open and blinked against the bright daylight.
“Get him away from your father before you speak to him,” Sebastian whispered into my hair before kissing my neck. “Be careful Victoria. He’s not the father you recall from your youth.”
No one needed to remind me of that. My father ceased to be the same man I remembered even before he became what we were. Immortality had only made things worse. And from what I could tell…it was much worse, indeed.
“Claude!” I called out as I hurried down the stairs. “I’m hungry. In all this excitement with the day walking I’ve completely forgotten to feed. Would you mind escorting me to grab a bite?”
I snatched Claude by the front of his shirt before he could protest, and distinctly thought I saw a smile dance across his lips before it vanished into a stony expression.
“Have I ever refused you, Mistress?” Claude said with a little bow.
I rolled my eyes as I pulled him toward the backdoor. “Sebastian, keep my father entertained until we return, would you?” I shouted on my way out.
Claude grinned as we cleared the back of my property and entered the fringes of the park. “So what is it you’d like to sink your fangs into, Victoria?”
“If you don’t answer my next question correctly, I might sink my fangs into you.”
Until the next time…I’ll be counting comments for a mid-week bonus!