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In the Dark of the Night
It was a long flight to Paris. I slept most of the way, wedged in a seat between Peter and Nicolas. I didn’t want to be on this plane. I wanted to go home. So what if they killed me. At least I’d see my parents again. And Logan. But there was Claire to think about. And I don’t think Nicolas wanted me dead, because he was going to some good lengths to keep me safe from whomever he worked for.
We had to switch planes in New York, but finally, we made it to Paris. It was the middle of the day there, just past noon when we stepped out of the airport. It was rather cloudy, which was good for Nicolas and Peter. Catching a cab, we headed to a rather fancy looking hotel that I knew must cost at least three hundred dollars or more a night.
“Don’t worry. Nicolas knows what he’s going.” Peter assured me as Nicolas checked us in across the lobby. The two of us were pretending to be interested in a painting hang on the wall above a fountain.
“It’s not that I’m worried about.” I replied quietly. “It’s the fact that any of us could be killed. I’m not so sure I’m ready to die. I haven’t been here as long as you two.” I sighed. “How old are you anyway?”
Peter chuckled. “Two hundred ten.”
Suddenly the term of a ‘much older boyfriend’ had a whole new meeting. But Nicolas wasn’t my boyfriend was he? Just a friend trying to save my life.
“How did you became a, you know, vampire?”
“One of the Alucard.” Peter replied. “I was in Paris with my mother and father, and got lost. The most I could remember was the most beautiful redhead finding me. She raised me as her own in the depths of the Alucard castle, and when I got to the age I am now, changed me. Course, you know her as Lily.”
“She was one of the Alucard?”
“A long time ago. It’s how Nicolas got his job as one of them – she referred him.”
“How’d he get to become one then?”
“One of the rogue vampires of London caught me out at night. Lillian found me and took me in for a while. When she quit the Alucard and moved to the United States, I took her place.” Nicolas said, approaching and handing me a room key, keeping the other for himself. “Change of plans. Abigail, you’re going to be staying in the hotel room with a friend of mine. Peter, you’re coming with me.”
Peter nodded, and we headed for the elevators, heading to the tenth floor.
“What is it you do for them?” I asked Nicolas as we walked down the long hallway. It was extremely nice, decorated in warm hues that felt inviting.
“I’m what they call a Hunter. I track down the people they tell me too, and kill them. In cases like yours, I turn them or bring them back to be turned.” He said quietly. I blinked at him, watching as he opened one of the many doors and led us in, shutting the door and locking it behind him.
“That sounds… pleasant. How come you haven’t wanted to suck my blood yet?”
“Because vampires usually control our urges, unless we smell blood.”
“Which is why you freaked out when I cut my finger on the script.”
The room was nice too, with a living area in the same reds and golds as the hall outside. Two doors led off to the right, another to the left. I assumed one was a bathroom, the other two bedrooms.
Nicolas and Peter went into one of the bedrooms and shut the door to talk strategy, leaving me to sit on the sofa and flip through the channels. They weren’t even in English, but I found something like a French soap opera and left it on there, pretending to act like I knew what they were saying.
Not long afterward, there was a knock at the door. I jumped, having almost dozed off. I sat up and began to get to my feet, but Nicolas was there before I could even stand upright. He pulled open the door, and a young woman about his age stood there, with a long blonde braid down her back and dressed in a little black dress, looking like she’d just come from a party.
“You owe me Nicolas. Where is she?” She spoke with a light French accent. Nicolas stepped aside and she entered, looking at me. Her eyes were the brightest of reds, like the man’s back at prom had been. She flashed a smile. “Hello Abigail. I’m Madeline. Welcome to Paris.”
“Madeline will be staying with you. You’re not to leave this room until I get back, or Madeline instructs you otherwise.” Nicolas said as Peter emerged from the bedroom.
“When are you going to be back?”
“As soon as I can. Try and get a bit of sleep. You might need it.” He said, and kissed my cheek before he and Peter disappeared in a blur out the door. It shut and locked behind them.
“Well, guess we’re stuck in here for a while.” I sat, sitting down on the arm of the couch. “What exactly is it vampires do for fun?”
“We usually hunt down prey, but that’s not an option right now.” Madeline said, sitting down next to me on the couch, her gaze briefly flickering toward the television.
“Sorry if its personal, but how did you become a vampire?” I asked suddenly and she looked back at me. Nicolas and Peter’s stories had me fascinated, and surely not every vampire was made by Lily. She shrugged.
“Its not personal. In fact, it’s a story almost everyone knows.” Madeline said. “I was on the Titanic, with my fiancé, heading to meet his parents and mine in New York. We had no idea that the best ship in history would sink, so naturally, we were frightened along with the other passengers when we were rushed on deck with mentions of the ship sinking. It was supposed to be unsinkable, they’d promised, but a bunch of liars they were. I was shoved into one of the lifeboats by my fiancé, and that was the last I saw of him. When the ship went under, it collapsed the lifeboat I was in and plunged me into freezing waters. I was picked up by rescue boats, barely alive, and taken to the Carpathia with the few remaining survivors. A vampire had been on the Carpathia and he found me, inches from death, and saved my life.” She rattled off. It took me a moment to fully catch up. She flashed a bright smile. “But its all history now, and doesn’t really matter. We all have a tragic story one way or another.” She shrugged.
She pulled out a sleek cell phone. She pressed in a number and turned away from me, speaking French into the speaker for a moment. The conversation with the person on the other end took all of two minutes, before she hung up and turned back to me. I frowned.
“Something wrong?” I asked. Her tone when she’d been speaking the French hasn’t exactly been kind.
“Nothing at all. We just need to go on a little trip real fast.”
“Just something Nicolas forgot to mention.” She smiled a dazzling smile. I felt my mind slip into a happier state, and somewhere in the back of it, I realized she was using compulsion on me, like it had happened with Lily earlier. Against my will, I was following her out of the hotel room, into the elevator. My mind felt warm and fuzzy, and the only thing I could think about was following Madeline. We left the hotel building, and got into a cab, going only who knew where.
The effects of her compulsion faded on me when we stepped out of the cab. We were standing at the base of the Eiffel Tower, which was lit up completely. The light was horribly bright.
“Come on.” She said in that odd soothing voice and I followed. Up several flights of stairs, then in another elevator. Up and up we went. The elevator opened up into an inside room that smelled of lavender and watermelon. It was a resteraunt near the middle of the tower. Even from here, I could tell it was a long way down. The compulsion faded on me the moment we’d stepped from the elevator. Two dark clothed men came from nowhere and grabbed me by the arms, pulling me forward as Madeline skipped toward the only occupied table in the resteraunt. They weren’t eating, but simply sitting around, talking. However, all ten pairs of eyes looked up at me.
“Welcome to Paris, Abigail.” The dark haired man at the head of the table said. His accent wasn’t French. Much more older, refined, and almost familiar. He sounded a bit like my math teacher back home – her family was Romanian. I pulled against the men holding me, but couldn’t move. They held me in place.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” He continued in his accent, fingers pressed together on top of the table. “We’ve been trying to get you for a long time, you know.” His tone was just like we were having any other conversation, instead of me standing here, being forcibly held.
“Let me go.” I said in as dark of a tone I could muster. He laughed, and there were a few resounding chuckles around the table from the man and women sitting there. Madeline had joined them.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. But we will detain you until Nicolas figures out the false trail we laid for him. He should be here soon.” The man replied, and then made a gesture with his hand. The two men holding me guided me toward the window and I glanced down. I’d never been a fan of heights, and this wasn’t helping.
They pushed open one of the windows and shoved me out onto one of the iron beams. I wobbled in place, but from behind one of them guided me and led me out across the beam to one that intersected in front of the windows. We went out on that one, and he pulled a rope from nowhere, swinging it over the beam above us before tying it to my hands, leaving me hanging there by my hands on a beam no thicker than my arm, and a wind blowing that could probably knock me over. He flashed a grin and retreated back inside. My heart hammered deeply in my chest, against my ribs. This was crazy! I was hanging of the Eiffel Tower for God’s sake! Two months ago the worst thing I had to worry about was failing finals. Now I had to worry about dying, or becoming a vampire. Peachy!
I looked up through the windows and could see them talking about something else, simply ignoring me now. Below the resteraunt, I could see the elevator going back down. It came back up too, and when the doors opened, Nicolas and Peter stepped out.
And they didn’t look happy.
Nicolas spotted Madeline sitting at the table and he glanced around, as if looking for something. Or someone. His gaze finally landed on me as I tried to keep my balance with the wind whipping every which way. He turned and began to shout – well, at least I thought so, based on his wild hand movements. I couldn’t hear a word anyone said, shouting or not.
I pulled on the rope binding my hands above my head. My hands and arms were tingling from lack of blood. I lifted my hands up and found I could slide them back and forth across the beam. Trying to come up with some sort of plan, I walked across the beam I stood on like a balance beam, sliding my hands above me as I did. I reached the end, but there was no slipping my hands from the rope, because the beam connected to a vertical one. Bending my knees, I pulled hard on the rope, ignoring it as it cut into my wrist. Edges of iron were sharp, right? So maybe if I slid the rope back and forth, it might break….
Two minutes of doing that and the rope snapped. I nearly lost my balance then and there, but grabbed the vertical beam, chancing a glance back through the windows. No one had noticed me – all their attention was on Nicolas. Their backs were toward me, but Nicolas was facing me, and could see every move I made. Except I had no idea what move to make next.
Nicolas decided that for me, because suddenly, all hell broke loose. The windows shattered as Peter suddenly snapped and flung one of the Alucard out the window. I turned my face away to keep from getting glass shards in my eyes. I could hear all of them now, their growls and hisses as Nicolas and Peter tried to take all of them on. They’d never be able to.
“Abigail, jump!” I heard Peter shout. Was he stupid? I would be killed! Maybe I could try climbing my way down.
“Abigail!” It was Nicolas this time. He has a hold of one of the vampires by the neck, and twisted it suddenly, snapping it. It was frightening.
He met my gaze. “Jump. Trust me!”
He got out before he was pulled back into fighting. I looked down – big mistake. Nothing but float ground stared back at me. Were they telling me to jump and kill myself? Was that it? Or was there a method to their madness?
Either way, I wasn’t jumping.
There was another beam below me, not that far down, which crossed over to the leg of the arch, where beams interlocked and weaved together. If I could get to the leg, I could climb down. But getting to that beam below the one I stood on now would be the hard part.
With no other choice, I slide down and laid on my stomach across the beam, slowly lowering my legs and feet down. I still couldn’t touch the bar. I began to led myself slide, my hands gripping the edge of the beam, which was cutting into my fingers. I glanced down – it was still at least two feet to the beam. I wondered if I could just fall somehow, but if I did, I knew I wouldn’t land on the beam right. But yet, I let myself drop.
My feet hit the beam and instantly slid out from under me. My head connected with part of it and I cried in pain, too stunned to try and grab anything. I was falling through the air, closer and closer to the ground. At least this way the Alucard wouldn’t get me. I’d be a little too splattered across the sidewalk.
But something caught me.
It was a large net that crossed under the entire underbelly of the tower. Now I understood why Peter and Nicolas had told me to jump. I’d be caught by the nets. Apparently they were to stop suicide jumpers, or so I assumed. It seemed like a reasonable explanation.
Now was just the problem of getting down.
It was still a good distance to the ground, and there wasn’t a ladder or anything. But the net did connect with the legs of the tower, so I could go with my original plan with climbing down. I wasn’t sure how well that was going to work, but I headed for the nearest leg. It was then I remembered the stairs. The leg in front of me held the stairs that we had gone up before taking the elevator. Now just getting to them.
The net was difficult to crawl across, so it took longer than I wanted to reach the leg. I couldn’t hear or tell what was going on above me; I just hoped Nicolas and Peter would be all right.
I reached the leg of the tower, but the stairs weren’t even close to me. They were at the center, which I couldn’t even jump to. Getting down could be more of a challenge than I thought. With a sigh of defeat, I rolled back to the middle of the net and sat there, trying to think of a way down. If I could run, get away, and maybe hide somewhere until later, I could get a flight back to the states, or meet up with Nicolas somewhere. But I didn’t have any money anyway.
Something shattered above me and a black blur came streaking toward the ground. It hit the net and for a moment I couldn’t tell what it was until it rolled over to where I sat. It was Nicolas, looking a bit worse for wear.
“We’ve got to go.”
“We’re stuck in a net! We can’t just jump!” I cried as I tried to get to my feet. He was already up and looking at me. He gave me a pointed look.
“Oh no! Don’t even!”
“Abigail! Now!” He shouted, holding out his arm for me.
Shutting my eyes, I took it. In one swift movement, he flung me up on his back like a piggyback ride, and ran toward the edge of the net. A whoosh of air, then nothing. I opened my eyes to find us on the ground – but everything was blurred. I felt like I was flying as I clung to Nicolas’s back. It was like it had been in my dream, except we were running through Paris.
He ran along every back street possible, farther and farther away from the Tower. I briefly saw the front of our hotel pass in another blur, but it was gone the next instant. We didn’t stop until we were well into the center of the city. I was planted back on my own two feet behind a shady looking resteraunt, and Nicolas began to pace.
“Its okay. We got away.” I said in an attempt to calm him down.
“They’ll come for you.” He said quietly and looked at me. “I don’t want to see you like me Abigail. They’ll use you for horrible things and I won’t be able to stand it.”
“We’ll just keep running then.”
“They’ll follow. And eventually, we’ll run out of places to hide.” He said. I sighed and went toward him, placing my hands on his shoulders to get him to stop pacing. His gaze met mine.
“Maybe we should split up?”
“No.” He shot that down instantly. “Splitting up will make it worse.” He suddenly pulled me into a tight hug, pressing a kiss to the top of my hair. “I’m going to keep you safe. I promised you that.”
“If it’s going to get you killed, I don’t want you to.”
“Can’t kill me. I’m already dead.” He said dryly and I looked at him. “Sorry. Bit of humor to lighten the mood a bit but apparently its not working.”
“Nothing about death is funny.” I replied.
Then, without warning, he leaned down and kissed me.
It was a brief kiss, nothing more than a tender one, but it still made my cheeks flush red and butterflies to awaken in my stomach. Suddenly, he stiffened and pulled me around to stand behind him protectively.
“Isn’t this touching? He loves a little human.”