Breaking-in the House
I had my family—my parents and Justin—but the others chose to go. Leslie arranged for them to stay outside the area in one of his safe houses. In the morning, they would be free to go where they wished. Leslie gave them advice as to safe areas to inhabit, but I doubted they would take it.
Once our former family members left, Leslie introduced us to the other vampire, besides Selene, who lived with him. Everything about Kyler, a German vampire with brown hair and eyes of burnt orange, was large and muscled. Even his nostrils looked tough. He didn’t talk much.
The three made a dynamic group. Leslie, the leader and the brains, was strong and agile. Selene was quick, quiet, and I imagined, quite vicious. Kyler looked like he could knock your head off by thumping it. Since Selene and Kyler were the only two vampires who lived with Leslie, I inferred that he must have known them for a long time.
“Who has the shortest fangs?” I asked. Leslie glared at me. Apparently, that was a rude question to ask.
“I’m the youngest,” Kyler said, “So my fangs are shorter than theirs.”
“Marginally shorter than mine,” Selene added. “Leslie’s, well,” she laughed and slid me a sly smile, “they are quite a bit longer. You’d be hard pressed to find another with his experience.”
“This reminds me that I need to re-mark you, Camellia,” Leslie said. “Selene, you should do the same to Justin.” She nodded and left to retrieve her faux fangs.
It was after dinner, but the three vampires, my parents, Justin, and I were still in the dining room. My parents looked nervous, and I worried about them. I didn’t know whether we could adjust to living with vampires after so many years of killing them. The only way to try was to start seeing them as people instead of monsters.
“I’ve been wondering. Ow.” I drew the syllable out and turned to stare at Leslie. He wiped the faux fangs on a cloth napkin. “That really hurts, you know.”
“Yes. So, what it is you were wondering?”
“Well, were you all slaves at some point in history? I mean it makes sense to fight for the freedom of others, especially if you experienced it firsthand.”
“A vampire’s past is something he or she shares only with most trusted allies. It isn’t my place to tell the histories of Selene and Kyler.”
“Well, what about your history?”
“I’m not sure I’m ready to share that with you, especially when I haven’t shared much of it with anyone. Now, be still. You’re bleeding.”
He drooled onto my shoulder and began rubbing in the spit. The tingling, a little stronger than the first time, went from the mark straight down my body. I wondered how his fingers would feel rubbing other parts of me.
“That feels so…” I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“Okay, well, you’re set.” He patted my other shoulder and went over to address my parents. “Harold, Iris? If you’ll excuse me, I need to make some phone calls.” He started to leave but turned back to address my father. “I’m sorry your people weren’t interested in working with me, but I’m glad you and Iris decided to stay.” He looked over at me and then back to my father. “Welcome to House Wells.”
I took my parents to the room Leslie had shown me, which would now be theirs. Leslie promised that someone would go to the old house and fetch my parents’ personal things and whatever supplies the others didn’t take. They had argued bitterly, and I felt it was entirely my fault.
I hadn’t really paid attention to the room before, but now that I did, I found it comfortably furnished with golden oak furniture. A muted floral spread covered the large mattress, which my father gave a testing pat. The fireplace in the back corner of the house was set but not lit. As my mother prattled about the luxury of having electricity, I stuck my head through a door on my right. It led to a bathroom that connected to the next bedroom.
Now that it was dark, the vampire-safe shades on the eight foot-windows were open. It was too dark to see much of anything, but my parents and I stood there and just looked out for a while. We were safe. We were warm. I don’t think any of us knew what to do with ourselves. With a hug and a kiss for each of them, I left my parents to settle.
I continued my self-guided tour of Leslie’s house. The second floor hallway was a long balcony that gave a view of the downstairs living room. My parents’ new room occupied the back corner of the house. As I strolled along the balcony, I passed three more doors, all closed, but I assumed they were the bedrooms of the humans who lived with Leslie. As I wondered which rooms were Selene’s and Kyler’s, it struck me that Leslie would have made the other half of the windowless basement into vampire rooms for them.
At the end of the hallway, I found a spiral staircase that went up to the partial third floor. I set one foot on the bottom step when a soft but insistent voice caught my attention. It was the soft, cold voice—Leslie’s voice—that had me sneaking up the stairs to peek at floor-level and survey the area.
This third floor loft topped the second floor bedrooms, and like the second floor hallway, open railing allowed for a view all the way down to the living room. More eight-foot windows took up almost all of the wall space. Leslie leaned against one of them and looked out while he spoke into a cordless phone.
“I already told you both. She is a free human, untradeable unless it’s her will…absolutely not…I love her. You of all should understand that.”
My best guess was that he was speaking to Benoit. As I replayed what Leslie said, my mind faltered over, “I love her.” Me? No, no. That wasn’t possible. I looked down at the ring I still wore. No, he couldn’t love me. He just met me. I listened more carefully when he began speaking again.
“Guillame, if your wife wanted to leave you, would you let her?…You hold me to my word, and I’ll hold you to yours…It’s preposterous; she’d never.” He listened for a bit and shook his head. “Guillame,” he snapped, “All I want to hear from you on that matter is that you won’t interfere when he is punished…What? Yes, I’ll speak with her.”
Her? This was the annoying thing about eavesdropping. I badly wanted to run over to him and demand he tell me what was going on, but I decided that I would learn more by not interfering. It was rude and dishonest. Nevertheless, I kept quiet and listened.
“Yes?” he asked and paused for a bit. “Is that so…And who all have you told…Yes, I knew. I was looking for her for a while.” I heard an outraged screech come from the phone. “It’s my business and of no concern to you…Yes, really…Did she?” Leslie laughed half-heartedly and raised his arm up to plant his palm against the glass. “Well, you’ve an interesting talent…Just her?…Yes, it does make one wonder…I’ll think about it.”
He clicked off the phone but thankfully didn’t turn. I had no idea how he would react if he knew I heard him. I decided the best approach would be to finish walking up the staircase loudly so he’d think I just showed up by chance.
Leslie sighed then said, “I can hear your heartbeat, Camellia.”
Cheeks red, I rose from my crouch and finished my ascent. “Sorry, I was just…exploring. It’s a fabulous house. This floor is amazing and so is the view.”
“So it is,” he murmured. “I’ve had many houses but never a home.”
I walked over to stand next to him and look out the window. “I know what you mean.”
“Yes, I think you actually do.”
Neither of us spoke for a while. We stood there, four feet apart, each staring out our own window. I started when I saw something dart out into the trees.
“Relax,” Leslie said. “It’s just Kyler checking the property. We don’t expect any visitors, but it pays to be careful.”
The night was so still, with only a hint of wind. It would be Thanksgiving soon. My mother insisted we celebrate traditional holidays as a way to keep our human culture. They weren’t exact, but we celebrated them nevertheless.
Quietly, Leslie said, “I’d like to know what you’re thinking.”
I pressed my forehead against the cold glass. “Do vampires celebrate Thanksgiving?”
“Some do. We can if you’d like.”
Leslie’s brooding put me in a bad mood. I decided the best use of my time would be to either go find a book to read or go find Justin to spar. Maybe we could work out our frustration by beating up on each other. I pushed off the glass and spun in a neat semi-circle, but Leslie caught my arm.
“Camellia, will you be honest with me if I’m honest with you?”
“I’m always honest with everyone. I don’t know a way to be besides blunt and awkward, if you haven’t noticed already.”
This got a small smile from him. “If you want to know something, all you have to do is ask.”
“Okay. Did you tell Benoit that you know who Aster is?”
“I didn’t have to. She knew you and told him who you are, your real name.”
I flopped back against the glass. “Does she know about our parents?”
“I don’t think so. She wants you, and of course I refused.” Leslie looked at me. “She wants to know what I’m doing with you, how I met you. She desperately wants to see you.”
“What did you tell her?”
“That I would think about it, but it’s you who should think about it.” I nodded. “She said she spoke with you, played with you in your dreams.”
“W-what?” My eyes widen in surprise.
“Did you have a dream where you danced with her?” I nodded dumbly. “She said she knew it was you with me at the gala. She smelled you long before she caught a quick glimpse of your face and a good look at your retreating back.” Leslie turned to prop his shoulder against the glass and face me. “The more she thought about your name, Lily, and the more she thought about the scent, she realized it was you. Apparently, when you were small, you had a favorite blanket with lilies and jonquils all over it.”
It was so stupid of me, but I couldn’t have known that she was alive and that she would remember the blanket. I hadn’t.
“She said when she rested, you were dreaming, and she found herself pulled into your dreams.” Leslie shifted closer to me. “She said it has never happened before.”
“It was real.” I hardly believed it, and it worried me. “What do we do? They know who I am now. How can we protect my parents?”
“As far as they know, I only have you.”
I swiveled to look at him. “I should send them away. They should’ve just gone with the others.”
I blew out a breath. I had never been away from them, and the thought was almost heart-stopping. Only a few days before, I had seriously considered leaving everyone and going out on my own. It seemed easy when I had a choice. Now that I felt like I had no choice, I wasn’t ready to separate from them. I didn’t want to think about it, so I focused on the other part of the conversation.
“So, was there enough evidence, or whatever, for Luc to be punished?”
“Yes, and I will see to it soon,” Leslie muttered.
END CH10, P1