11. The Udon Incident

Towson, MD June 21, 2004

Etienne sat on the side of his bed for a moment and delved into his memory for a particular phone number he hadn’t used in over two years. He then tapped those numbers into his cell phone.

A young, male voice eventually answered. “Prospero’s Books, how may I help you?”

“Hello,” Etienne said cheerfully. “I’d like to speak to Cassie Blair, if she’s available?”

Uh… hold on a minute, let me see if she’s here—” and he was put on hold, listening to some kind of new-age vocalist—sounded like Enya, perhaps? —until the phone was picked up again.

Hi,” another voice answered, warm and feminine, but still not Cassie. “She hasn’t come in yet, but I expect her in later this evening. Would you like to make an appointment?”

“Yes, but I’d like to leave my name and number for her, if that’s alright?” Etienne asked, and then gave his number. “Tell her it’s Steve Bishop—yes, that’s right. Thank you.”

“Bishop?” asked Dr. Hewitt, now emerging from the bathroom, fully clothed, his moustache freshly waxed. “I thought your name was Copperfield?”

“Bishop is the name she knows me by,” Etienne said, ignoring the unspoken query about whether perhaps Copperfield wasn’t his real name either. No doubt they’d be getting to that matter soon enough, but it would be a longer conversation than he wanted to have right now. “I’m sure she’ll call me back in a few hours. Meanwhile, we should probably figure out what to do about that girl—”

“That girl?” Charles echoed, in what couldn’t possibly be total obliviousness but was certainly a wonderful facsimile of it. “Oh. That girl.”   Continue reading

Advertisements

10. Chloe

BWI Airport, Baltimore, MD June 21, 2004

The problem with sitting in the back  of a large airplane, Chloe knew, was that you were always going to be one of the last ones off the plane when it arrived at the gate. Even having no luggage in the overheads didn’t help—there were just too many people in the aisle between her last-minute seating and her targets up in first class.

The one thing in her favor, however, was the inevitable time lag between when passengers disembarked—and when their luggage actually showed up at baggage claims.

So when Chloe followed the rest of the passengers from the Chicago-to-Baltimore flight to the baggage area, the vampires and their mortal assistants were still there, waiting on their luggage along with everyone else.

Great. Now what?  She had no idea. Clearly they would be going somewhere—but where? Dawn would be coming soon, and vampires would need somewhere to stay, secret and safe. It was unlikely she’d be able to overhear the address they told a cab driver, or be able to follow them, even if she had a rental car ready to jump into at the door.

Why was she even hereContinue reading

9. Unexpected Company

O’Hare Airport, Chicago, IL June 21, 2004

Etienne steered the girl back to the seating section, where TJ had rejoined the others. “Sit down,” he told her. “You will stay in that seat until I release you, and you will answer my questions. Is that clear?”

Eyes wide and frightened, she nodded, clutching the straps of her backpack where it rested on her lap.

Both the grad students, sitting just across from where he’d sat the girl down, were watching what he was doing with rather keen attention.  Etienne ignored them, turning slightly to hand  the girl’s phone over to Charles.

“Check the phone logs, and transcribe the numbers,” Etienne said. “Especially outgoing.”  He then turned his attention back to Chloe.

“You’ve been watching us. Why? And for whom?”

“I—I haven’t, it’s just—”

“Chloe,” Etienne repeated.  “Look at me—that’s it. You were watching us, we saw you. Just answer the questions. Who are you working for?” Continue reading