Autumn woke up violently ill. She threw up until she felt parched and empty.
Pulling herself up by the sink she cleaned off and drank water from the faucet.
Looking up at herself in the mirror she felt sad again. She looked as pitiful as she felt and felt tears beginning to well up again.
“Pull yourself together, Autumn. You are stronger than this.” she told her reflection.
Looking around the room, the decorations and especially the coffin still gave her the creeps. The thought alone that she would have to soon rest in one made her antsy.
She exhaled deeply, realizing she could not say if it was nighttime or day and for how long she had been here now.
“Oh mom, mommy, wherever you are now, help me. I need you now more than ever. If you can hear me, please please please help me.” Autumn pleaded into the air, fighting back tears of frustration.
She heard slow clapping sounds. Once more Luke seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
“Bravo, bravo. Quite the performance little Missy. How melodramatic. Too bad only that mommy dearest won’t be able to help you, considering that she is all worm-fodder now, rotting away in the ground.” he mocked her.
Autumn felt hurt and angry. Very angry. She jumped up, banging against the glass door immediately before Luke who never even flinched, yelling
“You monster! You’re evil! I hate you!”
“Ah there is that temper now that redheads are known for. I was beginning to wonder if you were defect or it was all but a rouse. I must say, I rather like it.” he grinned at her.
Autumn had no violent tendencies but right about now she felt like running her nails through his face, but this crazy man would probably enjoy that.
“Dirty bastard!” Autumn never cursed but now seemed to be the right time for it.
“Oh, listen to you. Must be the hormones talking.” he mocked her further.
“Open that door and I’ll show you hormones.”
“Tempting, really. Amusing to see that you measly humans always think you could do anything at all to a vampire, not realizing how weak you really are.” he laughed.
Weak. Yes, that is exactly how she felt right now. Weak and powerless, being pulled by other forces out of her control, like a leaf in the wind.
She turned and with her back to the door she let herself slide down it, feeling that if she stood any long she’d fall over.
“What must have happened to you that made you like this?” she asked, more to herself, but received a response by him.
“Made me like ‘this’? Meaning what?” he asked her.
“You say that as if it were a bad thing.”
“It IS a bad thing. Very bad. You are bad.”
“And?” he asked, shrugging.
“Why am I here? Why me? Just randomly picked the foolish girl that was dumb enough to go with you?”
Autumn thought about how dumb she had been. Many times when sitting in her cell alone she had scolded herself for having been such a naive idiot.
But somehow, she had not felt in control of her mind and body and was wondering if he had done something to her back at the park, overwriting her common sense and controlling her mind and actions. He was a vampire, dangerous, and she would not put it past him.
“I told you before, nothing is random about this plan.”
“I don’t know you. Or any vampires other than my grandpa, his wife Melissa, my grandma and Blaine and their kids. What kind of plan is this supposed to be?”
“Your relations and Caleb were instrumental in RUINING MY LIFE! Because of them I had to run and hide like a rat! Because of them have I lost everything, every piece of me, my home, my family, my future. Instead we have this hippie Caleb reigning over the vampires. It’s an insult to just mention it. But he will soon find his end too. I hate him most of all. Then I will be the Elder.”
“Why would you be an elder? You are at best 25-30 years old.”
“What a typical human thing to say. It’s a title, not a human condition, an Elder. I am 22 in human years. And the title should be mine. I deserve it! Instead I am stuck here, hiding. But why am I telling you all this? More fun to keep you guessing.”
“Fun? Maybe for you. There is nothing fun about any of it for me.”
“Ok, I give you that. Maybe I’ll let you out of your cage little bird, to play with.” he teased.
“Play with? I am a living creature, not a toy. Who had hurt you so bad that you became like this?”
She stood up again, facing him, hoping if she had to look at her, it may swing something in her favor. Any hope to escape this place would be worth anything to her right now.
In that very moment a sharp pang of pain flowed through her, cramping her entire body, so that she nearly doubled over in pain.
“Oh, I see progress. Soon, Autumn, soon you will fall into a long slumber, and when you wake, you will be one of us. Like me.”
“I will never be like ANYTHING like you! Whatever made you this way, I would NEVER let that happen to me! But whatever it was, it must have been very traumatic.”
“I almost forgot that you want to be a shrink. Ok fine, I’ll play, so analyze me. Was it something you said? Maybe I wasn’t breastfed? Or was I maybe always like this? Born evil.” he mocked, coolly.
“Nobody is like this. Babies, by nature, are innocent. No, something MADE you like this. Your horrible parents probably, whoever they are.”
“Aww, listen to you so typical human, weak and sappy. Feelings this, hope that. Ridiculous and disgusting.”
“What is wrong with feelings?”
“What’s right about them?”
“They make life worth living. Give it a reason. A deeper meaning. Love, hope, compassion, trust, kindness,…”
“So tell me, how has that worked out for you so far, Autumn?” he mocked.
“Why did you turn me?”
“Because the more vampires, the better. Also, I did not want to chance the baby being human. It won’t be if you are a vampire too. A child to be proud of, not a weak human, pitiful.”
“You raped me. Nothing to be proud of.”
“Harsh way to put it.” he looked caught off guard.
“It’s the truth. You are a rapist!”
He looked taken aback, then averting his eyes.
“Where are we?” Autumn spoke again, when he wouldn’t say anything.
“Wouldn’t you like to know. No chance. The less you know, the better.”
“Tell me about your family.” Autumn tried to involve him into a discussion, hoping to somehow turn the fate in her favor. Clearly, when he was confronted with raping her, it made him uncomfortable.
“My family? What family?”
“You must have at least a mother and a father.”
“Must I now?”
“Everybody has those. You may not know them, but have you tried finding them?”
“No need to find them. My mother is dead. And my father is missing. Which is why you are here. You will help me find him.”
“How am I supposed to accomplish that? From in here?”
“Not literally. Through you, somebody who has him, will return him to me. And then Caleb will die. Along with the others.”
“And where do I figure in all this? If your mom is dead, you should know what it is like to only have one parent left. Now you intentionally put me in that position. A vampire alone with a child.”
“You would not have a child. The kid stays with me.”
“How do YOU want to care for a baby and toddler?”
“You make a valid point. Not very smart on your part. If I ever considered letting you go, you may have just changed my mind. Suggest you get comfy. I think I may keep you after all.”
He turned and walked away.
Nice going Autumn, you idiot! she scolded herself in her mind.
The idea had been to involve him in a personal conversation, then appeal to his compassionate side since they would then be acquainted. It was supposed to have a good success rate, according to her books. Obviously vampires did not read those.
Blaine looked behind him, and when he was satisfied nobody was watching him, he slipped out the door, then exhaled deeply, as a sign of relief. In his mind he thanked Viktoria to stand firm whenever he felt baby fever, as he was not looking forward to sleepless nights and toddler fits and messes for years again. And those teen years with Liam and Vivian had been brutal. Standing with his back to the door he heard two pitchy toddlers voices inside now screaming for ‘grampaaaaa’, so he walked off into the dark away from the house. I need a break and some peace and quiet! Might as well have some fun and harass Caleb while I am here, he thought grinning to himself.
He had been visiting Vivian and her family with Vik, but those toddlers were a lot to handle. His ears were still ringing. The Blackbournes’ home was across a large plaza from Caleb’s house, you could easily see it from their front door.
In order to get to it on foot you had to follow the pavement surrounding the plaza in a square fashion. Blaine decided against teleporting and for enjoying some quiet and cold air during the walk over. He now passed the dark driveway up to the old Count’s place, which had sat vacant since he had been banned by Caleb years ago. Nicole Vanderbilt, the Count’s wife, had taken their son and disappeared not long after the Count was overthrown. Blaine remembered his early beginnings as a vampire and his many confrontations with the ol’ Count. He smirked, stopped and looked up the driveway, when he noticed a bush with beautiful red roses, still in bloom, despite it being well into the Autumn season now. Vik loved red roses, her favorite flower. It wasn’t technically stealing if the place sat empty, right? So Blaine went up the driveway, trying to not get his clothes or skin torn while attempting to get a beautiful long stem just a little beyond his reach. While he was fishing to hold on to another vine to pull the higher one down by, he heard a car coming from the direction of the Count’s house, no headlights on, so all he could do was quickly jump into the bushes, cursing under his breath from the pain. Vampires did still feel pain, just not as extensive as humans and ultimately would always recover, and much fast than mortals. From his hiding spot he watched the car drive by, enter the road, then saw brake light. Dammit, did they notice him?
Instead he saw a human form exit the car right outside Caleb’s house, run up to the front door, bend down, then hurry back to the car and drive off towards the town exit sign.
“No fucking way!” Blaine freed himself from the bush, though not until securing his prize, the rose for his wife, sliding it into the rear waistband of his jeans, wincing at the pricks, but he had nowhere else to secure it to keep his hands free, before he walked up to the mansion in a fast pace, constantly looking over his shoulder.
“Never enter other vampire’s homes uninvited by vampiric entrance, Mr. Cameron, blah blah blah …” Blaine mocked one of the many tongue lashings he had received by the ol’ Count as he entered the home via vampiric entrance, voiding the need to use a door.
Looking around he whispered to himself
“Yup, just as creepy as I remembered it. Good thing Vik didn’t decorate our house like this. Jeeze, what a shitshow.” he shook his head.
He walked around, looking for clues, went upstairs, then back downstairs to the ground level.
“If I were a hostage, where would I be?” he turned around his own axis, scanning for possible locations, following along the walls.
“A cellar, that’s where. No windows, nobody could hear me…. hmm… a creepy crib like this definitely has a creepy basement, just where is that entrance. If I were to just try to guess and teleport to a random spot that I do not know … if I get it wrong, I am seriously fucked…. but …. oh – hello! I could just use that door over there.” Blaine had spotted an entrance and headed towards it.
Blaine tried the handle and it was unlocked, the door opened to some stairs, coldness received him, definitely a basement. He was about to flip on a light switch but saw faint light, flickering, like candlelight, from below and thought that there may be more than one crook, so he instead left it dark and headed down, as quiet as he could muster. When he arrived downstairs, everything was silent. He carefully followed a long hallway, into an open room, empty.
Some random odd furnishings, maybe overflow from above and an organ. Blaine rolled his eyes mumbling
“Play the organ, Mr. Cameron, you wanna-be artists are all the same…” mocking the ol’ Count again.
“Hello? Luke?” he heard a female voice then noticed the human form now appearing behind some glass door. Blaine wondered why he had not detected her .
“Autumn?” he asked in disbelief.
“Blaine?” she sounded just as doubtful.
“In the flesh.” He ran over to her.
“BLAINE! OMG BLAINE! Blaine, I am so glad to see you! Oh Blaine, get me out, quick!” Autumn sounded excited and hopeful.
“Hang on girly, I’ll getcha.” Blaine said.
Just how? No keys around, naturally. So brutal force. Blaine tried, but was informed by Autumn that this was special glass, made to withstand almost any impact known to man.
Blaine halted to think, then grinned.
“The glass may be super-fancy, but somebody went cheap on the lock. Who would’ve thunk my bad boy background could come in this handy one day.” Blaine knelt, fondled around his pocket, pulled out two metal sticks, fondled around the lock with them and within seconds there was a ‘click’.
Autumn came flying out of her cell, hugging Blaine, who hugged her tight for a moment, then pushed her away gently.
“Later girly, let’s go now. I cannot tell you how many thrillers your grandma ruined for me by complaining about exactly this, them hanging around hugging, talking, celebrating instead of running, and then the crooks came back and killed all. We will do her proud, come on.” Blaine took Autumn’s hand and pulled her along.
They ran up the stairs, out the front door and half way down the driveway when Autumn began limping and falling back.
“I don’t have shoes, Blaine…”
He picked her up and with her in his arms ran straight to Caleb’s house.
Kicking hard against the door, which was opened, a surprised Caleb in the doorway.
Blaine explained the situation, told him to use the last note he received today as toilet paper, then texted me and Ezio to come to Caleb’s home fast.
I arrived first since I was literally two houses down the street, I knocked, a grinning Caleb opened and let me in, Blaine came into view behind Caleb, then passed him to hug me tight.
“Blaine, you okay?” I had wondered where he had disappeared to all of a sudden during our visit at Vivian’s.
“Better than that, I got something for ya, babygirl. Right in there.” he pointed at the living room behind him.
I passed him looked and couldn’t believe my eyes.
I ran to the couch, hugged and held my granddaughter till I almost broke her in half.
Soon after Ezio arrived and did basically the same. Tears welling in everybody’s eyes many hugs were exchanged.
“How did you guys do that?” I turned to Caleb and Blaine.
“I did nothing, that was all Blaine.” Caleb admitted smiling, pointing at Blaine, who just stood there grinning his crooked smile, I went to him, kissed him, then held him in the tightest embrace, till he winced.
I loosened my grip, he stepped back and reached underneath the backside of his shirt, producing a beautiful long stemmed red rose, surprisingly still intact, which he then gallantly handed to me.
“Prickly lil bastard, but I got this for you, babygirl.” Blaine smiled, evidently my hug had pushed the thorns into Blaine’s skin.
“Blaine, you are just too much! You are so sweet – and my hero! You are amazing! I love you more than anything!” I kissed him and held him again.
“I think I love him too! My hero for sure!” Ezio quipped from the background.
“Sorry meatball, didn’t get you a rose though.” Blaine called back from behind my head, still in our embrace.
“I feel like I should go and get you one.” Ezio said.
“Nah, I don’t feel like saving your butt again too tonight. I have a one-a-day limit for that. Just stay in and take care of your sweet granddaughter.” Blaine smirked.
“So very humble!” Ezio joked.
We sat, I snuggled up to Blaine when Autumn, wrapped in several blankets, told her story. The mood dropped significantly when we found out what all had been done to this beautiful young woman, more a girl still. Blaine’s facial expression hardened, his body stiffened. I knew that if there was one thing that could really get him crazy mad it was violence against children and women, a childhood trauma for him. He himself had been beaten half to death by his parents at various occasions, watched his mother being beaten by his step-father many times, he had been mistreated, starved, ridiculed and hence this was one surefire way to get him to lose his cool. He did his best to control it, likely for Autumn’s and my sake.
“Well, the way I see it, you are safe, you are home, everything else can be dealt with. I understand you did not wish to become a vampire, but I can tell you from experience, there are worse things, and of course you have all of us to help you deal with it. The baby, should you indeed be expecting, is also not a problem. If you want to keep it, we will all help you, naturally. If not, I will have someone discreetly look into options.” Ezio said.
“Thank you grandpa. I don’t know anything yet. The vampire part seems certain. I will take a pregnancy test … eventually. Is Lauren all right? My dad?”
“Yes, I took all precautions. Everybody related to any of us is safe, I saw to that, let’s leave it at that.” Caleb stated.
There were many vampire things that even we were still not privy too, but if he said we all were safe, you could count on it. And that meant safe from anyone.
We talked more about past events and future plans, Autumn was exhausted but overjoyed, but soon ushered off to a bedroom to rest, while the rest of us celebrated with wine, discussing the issue at hand.
In the meantime
“OH NO! NO! NO NO NO NO NO! How?! NO!” the young man looked panicked.
He ran up the stairs to a mirror, stared into it, there was no reflection, then closed his eyes and chanted.
Fog surrounded it, the air got blurry around it when suddenly a face appeared. Not the young man’s, an older, downright ugly and distorted face with cold eyes.
“Have you captured her?” the face asked in a stern, detached tone.
“You have turned her?”
“I have father, and I have secured an heir. She should be pregnant by me now, to carry on the bloodline.” the young man said, slightly proud.
“She has already transformed then?”
“No, not yet, father.”
“You fool, you idiot! You know this is not the right way!”
“Yes, father, but I am confident the child will be a full vampire.” the young man tried to appease the older.
“It had better be! Have they agreed to our demands?”
“We had a small setback, the exchange will be slightly delayed, father.”
“Setback? Delayed? How am I to understand that?” the old man looked and sounded dangerous and aggravated.
“She … when I came home from dropping of the note with the terms she … was … not here.”
“I will get her back, father. It won’t take long.”
“You incapable fool, you mockery of a son! You are useless. A useless brainless disgrace! There is no way that you will be able to recapture her, she is probably sitting at Caleb’s home by now, all laughing at us! You are utterly worthless, always have been. I must have been out of my mind involving you in this. I should have known better, you are too stupid to dump water from a bucket if one gave you the handle into your hands! Do never dare to contact me again, you moronic brainless spineless imitation of a man! You nothing! That’s it! This does it! I am rotting away in exile and my only son, my own flesh and blood, the son of an ancient Grand Master vampire, an usurped Elder cannot even muster to kidnap a 19 year old human, turn and impregnate her, then exchange her for me. You are a waste of my time! A disgrace! You always were and it will never change!”
“Father, please…” the young man begged.
“Never call me that again. I have no son!” the old man hissed dangerously.
The image disappeared. The young man closed his eyes, and just stood there, slumped.
After a long time he straightened his shoulders, swallowed hard, resignation reflecting in his eyes.
He picked up the mirror, looked at it, closed his eyes and threw it forcefully to the ground, where it shattered into a million pieces, the awful sounds echoing off the walls like a soundtrack to the end of a chapter in a tragic story. One more look at the mess, before he left the house into the cold, rainy Autumn night.
A knock on the door interrupted us, Caleb went to answer. Soon he returned with a man, a young man. His appearance surprised all of us, as he was unfamiliar and had his hands tied behind his back.
“He has surrendered. Therefore, I cannot allow any of you to touch him.”
“Don’t tell me that is that asshole who did all the horrible things to Autumn? The rapist?!” Blaine had gone from 0 to fully pissed off in zero seconds flat, he was visibly angry and looked threatening.
“Get a hold of yourself, Blaine, as I said, he is now under my protection until he can be properly dealt with.”
“Oh, I’ll deal with him proper!”
“Me too!” Ezio puffed up
“As I said, he has surrendered. I have secured him and will lock him up until he can face a proper tribunal.” Caleb stoically stood his ground, his eyes narrowing daring anyone to challenge his decision. Caleb seemed super-sweet and calm, funny even, but make no mistake, he could be extremely dangerous. To humans and vampires of any rank.
“And we believe that BULLSHIT!? Surrendered my ass. It’s a trick, that’s what that is!” Blaine barked.
“I agree, he needs to have some manners taught!” Ezio reaffirmed Blaine.
“He needs to face a vampire tribunal, this is not for any of us to cast judgment over. And this time, I am dead serious. Neither of you will touch him, no tricks. Should anything happen to him while in my custody, I will bring ALL of you before the tribunal and you WILL meet your fate, I will NOT save you this time. Have I made myself clear?”
We all nodded. Silence fell, when the young man, who had been quiet since, spoke quietly
“I have one last request please. I would like to say goodbye to my father. We all know that I will most likely not walk away from this, but before I meet my fate, I want to say goodbye.”
“I’ll show you where you can put your request! I’ll stick it there for ya!” Blaine barked.
“BLAINE!” Caleb sounded fed up.
“Fine.” Blaine snorted.
“Who is your father, kid?” Caleb asked, turned to the young man.
“Vladislaus Count Dracula, the old Count.” the young man said without pride.
“You are Drago?” Caleb asked.
“I was once. When my father was banned, my mother and I fled, but not long after that she just abandoned me. I was a teen, all alone in a foreign country. I tried to get help from the vampire chapters but they all knew what had happened and why you overturned him, all refused help to me. So I assumed a new name, using my middle name and a variation of my last name. I am now Lucien Drake. Or Luke, as Autumn knows me.” the young man spoke plainly, without emotion, but there was a hint of resignation in his eyes.
“L.D.” Caleb stated the obvious.
“Yes.” Lucien confirmed.
“I will see what I can do. Your father has been banned. It would take some planning to arrange a meeting, but I see your point. You are correct, the death penalty is likely. I will let you know within the next days if it can be arranged.”