Sleep had evaded her in the five minutes she’d attempted it, but it had felt like hours. She groaned loudly, loud enough to reveal that it wasn’t necessarily genuine. Vern’s eyes snapped to her clock – the five minutes had passed into the time that there wasn’t a single staff member within hearing distance of the dorms. The perfection in the timing of her restlessness would never cease to amaze the young Incarceron. She slipped out of her bed, her nightgown falling in pools about her feet. She glided toward her door, opening it just a crack.
The whistle that came from her pursed lips was quite an anomaly. It was so high in pitch that only Moroi could hear, but lovely in tone, while still being annoying enough to wake the day walkers. As it were, the breeze that it blew on was laced with her magic, causing it to be quite cold – and seek out whomever she chose. For this particular eve (or morn, depending on the schedule your kind follows), she simply chose “Troublemakers”. Any Moroi that were as restless as her would hear this calling, whether she cared for their company or not. This… was going to be an interesting night. (Or day. This is going to get confusing for you diurnals.)
“I failed. My choice in kills was…unacceptable. I await my punishment, M’lord.” she explained the best way she knew how. She knew she had fucked up, she would not meet his gaze head on. He sat back in his seat, his eyes dark and assessing, drumming his fingers on the surface of his desk. The noise this made was loud in the silence of the room as he decided on what he would do.
Pushing back, he gained his feet, moving around his desk to stand before her. He could practically feel the nervousness and fear pouring off of her. He paced around behind her his thoughts jumbling together. There really was only one decision he could make in this situation. He finally stopped pacing, placing his hands on her shoulders. She would most likely flinch, but he would not comment on this.
“I am not going to punish you…this time.” he whispered against her ear. “I believe what you did and how it effected you was punishment enough.” He released her and moved back to stand in front of her, tilting her chin up so she would have to look him in the eye. He was going to speak very plainly and bluntly, drilling into her head the very importance of what they were here for. “But we cannot afford another screw up such as the one you made last night. We are in a new city and they are VERY aware of us. It is no longer like it used to be many centuries ago, with us having to hide ourselves away. These humans will not hesitate to slaughter us like sheep if we even step a toe out of line. Already, news of the train is on the television. This is not acceptable.” He released her chin and turned away from her, moving back to his desk.
“No more screw ups, Emilia.” he stated with finality as he sat down.
He would wait for her acknowledgment or denial before he moved on to his next topic.
“Have you ever been to New Hampshire?” he smirked.
Shane didn’t answer her for the longest time, starting the car and heading for home. But she was a patient woman and knew he wouldn’t be able to keep whatever was bothering him from her for very long. He had promised to never lie to her and it was a promise he always kept.
“Got a text from Marissa.”
“She wouldn’t call you on vacation unless it was important.” Carmen frowned, a sense of foreboding causing her to shiver.
“Apparently there is something important that she needs to tell me, but can’t do it on the phone for some reason.”
“It must be serious then.” Carmen nodded.
“Check my phone if you want. But I already let her know we are on our way back.”
“I believe you, baby. You don’t need to reassure me.” she stated, placing a comforting hand on his arm as he kept his eye on the road. The she-wolf (“I really need to think of a name for her.” Carmen stated.) whined in commiseration and placed her chin on Shane’s shoulder as if she sensed his turbulent thoughts and was wishing to comfort him.
“Bet you are excited to see the kids, huh? I just hope Jarvis managed to behave while we were gone, or there’ll be hell to pay.”
Carmen knew this was Shane’s way of making her feel more at ease and allowed it, sitting back in her seat with a chuckle. “Amelia would smack him down if he misbehaved. I hope she’s okay out in the guesthouse by herself. I know Dyna said she had plans to stop by and visit. Told me some odd story about Booker’s niece needing help with something. What that would be, I haven’t a flipping clue.” Carmen shrugged, crossing her ankles as she turned to stare out into the night.
Emilia didn’t know what was worse. Not being punished, or having him so close and touching her in a way that amounted to a kind of affection. As much as she had tried over the years to kill off those feelings, every time he looked at her – appraised her, it resurfaced like a battle scar. Raw…bleeding. This was just how it was. An endless cycle and one she would never be free of. The Count did not love. It was simple as that. He fed, and he killed. There was no humanity, not a trace of compassion. Simply put, Emilia was part of his survival network. A pawn in his chess game. A knight to his Kingship. Did he play on the feelings he must of known she had for him? Probably. Why else would he deny her the punishment that she knew would come eventually? His hands, the touch did cause her to flinch. Contact from a being, any being she hated, for it reminded her painfully of what she had lost all those years before.
“I believe what you did and how it effected you was punishment enough.”
The Count let her go, and she released a breath until he walked around to face her. The finger to her chin, forcing her to look at him. He was angry still. The centuries had brought with it a new sense of power by the humans, especially in a city like New York. The vampires could be and would be hunted down if they were stupid enough to put themselves at risk of exposure. This was Emilia’s crime.
“No more screw ups, Emilia.”
And that was it. He took his seat and the General was left to lick her wounds silently. But the Count was not done. His laptop open and glowing, he had been doing some digging.
“Have you ever been to New Hampshire?”
“No, I have not, M’lord.” It was a simple and honest answer. She wondered if that was where his prized artifacts were. Knowing this meant travelling, Emilia asked. “Shall I arrange transportation, M’lord?’ It would either mean a specially chosen limousine or something a little more armored. It looked like the trio would be making a road trip.
The ride home was a fairly quiet one. Shane was deep in thought about what awaited their return, and thankfully his admission of what had been troubling him meant that he was keeping Carmen in the loop, so to speak. The wolf’s whining was a little off putting, so Shane turned up the car radio as they sped along the open country road towards home.
~A few hours later~
The Williamson Estate
At last the car headlights finally illuminated the gates to their home. There were several cars in the drive, two that Shane was unfamiliar with. Either Amelia had company, which they had already discussed as a possibility, or David was entertaining. Either way, the house was going to be filled with people, or vampire.
“Home sweet home.” Shane said as he pulled the car into the garage and turned off the engine. Opening the door, he stepped out, then dropped the seat so the wolf could easily get out. “Why don’t I get the bags, and you can go show off your new pet to the kids?” It was almost like he was playing Father knows best. Who would have thought that Shane could be so…domesticated? Leaving Carmen to take care of the wolf, he went around to get his luggage, when a familiar voice said.
“You two go away on a romantic weekend and don’t invite me along…typical.” It was Marissa. She bore a crooked grin, and tried to keep things cheerful, while holding a file folder. Clearly whatever it was she needed to see him about, couldn’t wait. Shane got the bags out of the boot, and slammed it shut, rounding to walk up to Marissa. “Now? I just got back.” Marissa grabbed a bag from his hand and nodded. “Now.”
The two walked towards the front entrance, where Shane opened the door, only to hear loud music and a lot of chatter. Most of David’s boys were as usual in the kitchen, while he spotted Bianca and Misty heading for the media room. “Hey Shane!” the girls chorused, while Shane put down the bags. “Hey girls. I’ll be down shortly.” Shane then motioned for Marissa to follow him to his den, knowing that Carmen would be along after dealing with the wolf, possibly contacting a vet.
Closing the door, Shane rounded on Marissa and snarled. “This better be important.” You could see by the look in Shane’s eyes, that the old Shane was back.
Marissa went to turn on the television, and that was when the news reports about the missing train station manager, and the footage of the near collision of the two trains on the NY state rail network was making prime time news coverage. Watching all this, Shane was bewildered. “You wanted to show me a news report?” Marissa swallowed and then came the part she was waiting for. A shot of the platform where the mysterious train had been. There was a box on it. She freeze framed the shot and then approached the screen. “Tell me what you see written on that box.” Shane put on his glasses and approached the screen, peering closely. The writing was in Romanian. At first, Shane didn’t twig, until he actually read what the words said.
Shane couldn’t believe it himself. The box was big enough to hold a coffin, and had the name Vlad Tepes written on it. At first, Shane thought this was a joke. “This is what the big deal was? A box with the name of the most famous vampire in the world, who happens to be..in New York?” Shane shook his head. “No. This is some sort of prank.” Marissa did not look amused. “I intercepted some police reports about that train derailment, the two passenger trains. It was meant to collide and something stopped it. THEN this.” She pointed back at the television set. “Don’t you think its a little bit odd? A coincidence perhaps.”
“I think I need a drink.”
“Shane. Something strange is going on, and when it comes to strange, YOU normally are involved in it.” She had a point, and in the past that was a certainty, but not this time. Taking up the scotch decanter, he poured himself a glass. “Well, Marissa, I can honestly say that this has nothing to do with me. But..I can assure you, if this is real. If the REAL Count has come to America, he must have a bloody good reason.’
This is where Marissa became truly concerned. “We need to find out what that is.”
“Shall I arrange transportation, M’lord?”
“That won’t be necessary. I have already made the necessary arrangements. You and I shall be on the train tomorrow night bound for New Hampshire. Rheksas will be bringing out coffins in a special truck. I have taken the liberty of purchasing our living arrangements near where Victor used to live. Barring any sort of problems, we will arrive well before sunrise.” he stated, getting to his feet once more.
He returned to her side, taking her hands in his and kissing her knuckles. This was Vlad, quick to anger but also quick to forgive. “Your safety means the most to me, Emilia. I trust you have learned a lesson from this.”
Shane’s House – Kitchen
Carmen stood stock still in the middle of the kitchen, the look on her face bordering between shock and righteous anger.
In 5 words or less, it was a disaster area.
Open containers of food littered every surface, dirty dishes were piled on whatever surface that wasn’t covered by food and her oven stood open with something caked on the insides. There was food splattered on the floor, counters, cabinets and the ceiling. What looked like a glob of mayonaisse was baked into the lights on the walls.
She didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, laugh then cry or cry then laugh. So she settled on anger instead.
“DAVID ALEX WILLIAMSON!!!!!!!!!! GET YOUR ASS IN HERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She bellowed so loud it was heard in every room in the house and the caverns beneath. A window cracked in Shane’s office, her shout was so powerful.
There were dozens of footsteps throughout the house as vampires obeyed the order of their Queen. They all gathered in the kitchen, off to the side, some of them looking at the mess with guilty expressions. Even Bianca and Misty looked slightly ashamed of themselves. She crossed her arms and tapped her foot, waiting for the one she wanted to see the most. Tala (the name she finally decided on for the she-wolf), sat at Carmen’s feet, her tongue lolling from her mouth, calmly taking it all in.
When he finally arrived, looking as if he hadn’t a care in the world, Carmen’s glare could have melted steel.
“What the fuck happened to my kitchen?” she scowled.
Forests of New Hampshire – Clearing of the Witches Coven
Dyna pulled her car to a full stop and killed the engine. Rae sat quiet, for once, in the seat next to her. She turned to face her.
“Hey. You don’t have to go through with this if you don’t want to. Amelia will understand.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to go through with it. I do. It’s just that…” Rae’s voice trailed off, and Dyna immediately knew what the problem was.
“Rae. We are all very beautiful women. We are born into this world with nothing on. We are simply giving back to those who created us. There is no shame in it.”
“Have you done this before?” Rae looked at her.
“I have. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve participated in one, but I’ve never once been ashamed of my body. You shouldn’t either.”
“Are you staying?”
“I will be by your side every step of the way, sweetie. Trust me, okay?”
“Okay.” Rae nodded, looking at her hands.
Dyna spotted Amelia and Charmaine waving to them from the clearing and she patted Rae’s thigh. “Ready?”
Rae took a deep, steadying breath and nodded. Pocketing her keys, the two women exited the car and made their way to the lit fire in the center of the clearing.
“Greetings, Fellow Sisters.” Dyna greeted in the traditions of the coven. “I bring a new sister into our midsts to partake of our ceremonies. Is this acceptable?”
Vlad’s sudden change in his attitude was a full 180. He was known for this, especially by Emilia who stood silently as she allowed him to take her hands, brushing his lips against her knuckles. The Count was already one step ahead of her, having arranged transportation on a train to New Hampshire. This should have been no surprise. Now he was taking matters into his hands, especially after the General had two mishaps in as many days.
He urged that her safety was paramount to him, but he must have known, that she was important to his survival as well. Emilia’s punishment was that she had to learn a valuable lesson from acting without thinking in a city like New York.
“I promise. It won’t happen again.” Her steel blue eyes showed that she meant every word.
Rheksas was outside the Count’s bedroom and he was already making arrangements for the transportation of their coffins to New Hampshire. Another road trip for him, while the Count and General took the train. He would rather have been on the train with them, but the Count had made up his mind. Rheksas was curious about this place – New Hampshire. Just what the Count was after and who may stand in their way, remained to be seen.
Shane’s House – Kitchen
The bellow like roar of the Queen of Vampires had sent a shock wave through the entire house, including causing a window to crack in Shane’s den. Shane and Marissa looked sharply at each other, for they couldn’t help but hear it, like everyone else in the house.
“Ah shit.” Shane swore, as Marissa cringed.
“I’d hate to think what he did this time.”
That was a good question.
In the kitchen, the many vampires that had been taking shelter in the house including the “kids” – Misty and Bianca, had all come running, only to see the aftermath of what had been a weekend of non stop cooking.
“DAVID ALEX WILLIAMSON!!!!!!!!!! GET YOUR ASS IN HERE RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“Alright..alright, you don’t have to shout. And it’s Alexander…not Alex.”
The Ghost, aka David cruised into the kitchen with a blood doll on each arm. He was wearing dark shaded ray bans and took them off as he saw the mess. “Woah…Hey Carmen. Welcome home.” He said with a sly smile, squeezing a blood doll’s ass cheek as he checked out all the worried faces of the other vampires. It was pretty clear she was mad about the state of her kitchen, and since he was in charge while Carmen and Shane were away, he had some explaining.
“Oh..oh yeah right. See, we all decided that if the guys cooked. The girls cleaned up. Look like they failed on that count.”
Bianca went off. “What? This had nothing to do with us, David. You guys just kept on cooking even after you ate!” She gave his shoulder a punch, which he pretended to take offence too. “How can we clean up, if you guys WON’T stop cooking?!” The girls all started to argue with the boys and the boys were doing all kinds of fancy dancing and laughing as the arguments blew out of proportion, and the noise level was going through the roof.
Something had to give, but David, he was too busy gnawing on a blood doll’s neck in the middle of the fray.
Forests of New Hampshire – Clearing of the Witches Coven
In the clearing, Charmaine and Amelia had already started the fire, and had brought with them everything needed for the ritual to bring Rae into their coven and under their protection. Wearing long black robes with hoods, each embraced Dyna and Rae, kissing their cheeks and bidding welcome to them to join them around the fire.
“I bring a new sister into our midsts to partake of our ceremonies. Is this acceptable?” Dyna asked, much to the delight of Charmaine, who drew back her hood to expose her blonde hair that was it’s usual shaggy mess.
“Rae…Dyna has brought you before us so that you may be cleansed before the fire and raised to the status of Sister to the Coven. Please, come forth child.’ With a ringed hand, she reached for Rae’s as Amelia started chanting in a mystical voice that was unlike the one Rae or Dyna were used too. Amelia’s hair was out from it’s usual plaits and braids, long and flowing behind her and down her back. Her hands were marked with special drawn on motifs, and she had a small pot that was suspended over the fire, that she kept adding what looked like herbs too.
Leading Rae into place, Charmaine took up the chalice that had been so blessed and winked at Dyna.
“Blood of our blood, life of our life. This we drink joins us in spirit tonight.”
Charmaine takes a sip and then passes it to Rae.
“Drink….child, and become one of us.”
Little did the small circle of witches know….they were being watched.