I managed to walk away from this feeding, instead of crashing and sleeping in the wilderness like last time. We were lucky we were at the resort off-season; there were no late-night walkers lingering at the edge of the property.
Rick carried our victim back to the room, and set him on a table to recover.
“It doesn’t take long to recover from a feeding,” he reassured me. “Since the incisions are so small, they close up easily. Claire will bandage them up, why don’t you go get some rest.”
I nodded wordlessly, and turned toward the room.
“Hey Rick,” I said, angling my body toward him.
He looked up at me over the victim’s body and raised a curious eyebrow.
“Nothing…” I said suddenly.
“Okay? Is everything all right.”
“What is the blood book?” I finally asked.
I saw his jaw tighten, and his still-visible fangs nearly broke the skin.
“Who told you about it?”
“So it’s real… I dreamt about it. And somewhere, somehow it seems familiar. I can picture it in my mind. Some little latin book I found a while ago. Ah, my head hurts.”
“Why don’t you just go to bed?” Claire suggested, emerging from the master bedroom. “You’re tired, aren’t you?”
I shook my head dizzily, and reached out for the wall. I was exhausted, how was I even standing?
“I have to go to bed, I’m so sorry. I’ll see you all in the morning.”
Claire smiled and nodded as she retrieved a pack of Band-Aids from her robe pocket.
I collapsed onto the bed and instantly fell into a deep sleep.
“Madeline, what’s wrong with you? Where is your strength?”
“Who else dumb-dumb?”
“Am I dreaming?”
“No. You’re walking on the moon.”
“Cut the sass, munchkin. This doesn’t feel like a dream.”
“That’s because it’s a special kind of dream. We aren’t pure bloods like the others, but we are family. We share a bloodline, which means we have our own powers. Powers they don’t have.”
“Dreamwalking. What I’m doing now. I walked into your dreams.”
“Okay? Do you have any reason for being here?”
“I meant what I said earlier. You need to wake up. There are things they’re not telling you. Things they’re keeping from you. On purpose. I understand, because I’m the youngest. People never tell me anything either. But I’ve learned how to get the important information. Most of it is in that book.”
“The blood book?”
“Obviously. I gave it to you to help you… you just weren’t careful enough with it. Momma made you forget about it.”
“Why would she do that?”
“That book is powerful. Knowledge makes people powerful.”
“What’s in the book, MacKenzie?”
“Histories, prophesies. Secret truths… Only pure bloods are supposed to read it.”
“But you read it? And you understood it?”
“Of course. I’m a genius, remember? I’ve got to go. The sun is coming up.”
“It’s been two minutes!”
“Haha… that’s cute. Bye Madeline.”
I shot open my eyes, and sure enough the room was flooded with sunlight. In the kitchen, signs of life were already present. I walked groggily down the hall and found Claire and Natalie seated at the table painting their nails. Their hair and makeup were already perfected.
“Are we going somewhere today?”
“We’re in the Hamptons, of course we are! Time to shop till we drop, ladies,” Claire exclaimed, raising her hand to examine her manicure.
“You can’t go like that,” Natalie said, without lifting her eyes, “go change.”
I ignored her backhanded insult and asked, “Where’s Rick and…”
“Rick took Sam home. Sam said he wasn’t feeling well.”
“I wonder why,” I grumbled. “I’ll go shower and get dressed. I’ll be ready in an hour.”
We hit up Bloom on Madison St. first. It was so cluttered with antique furniture I struggled to maneuver myself through the rustic mirrors and rickety coffee tables. Claire didn’t hesitate to take out her credit card.
“I’ll take that set of dining chairs. And ooh, that tea set. Ah, what a lovely chandelier! We could use it in the beach house couldn’t we?” She slipped the credit card into the clerk’s hand as she continued marveling all the vintage wonders.
I was examining a mirror with hand-carved wooden edges when I saw him appear. His reflection materialized next to mine, and he adorned it with that devilish smile of his.
Christov motioned me outside; I looked around, then bolted out of the door.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, laughing.
“The question is why didn’t you invite me! Are you that bored of me already?”
“No, of course not,” I smiled. I nervously wrestled a stray hair back into my high ponytail. “I’m glad you came… but we weren’t allowed to have guests.”
“Well at least my parents play by different rules.”
I looked up at him confused. Behind his head, the brilliant noon sun shone, crowning him with light and beauty.
“The Bardzecki’s back home have this tradition…” he began, “it’s a massive hunt. The whole clan comes from whatever corner of the world they’re living in back to Russia. It’s winter time, so we know no one would dare stop us from taking over the wilderness for one wild night. This year, I convinced my father to invite the Lockwoods.”
I grinned excitedly, but also somewhat guiltily. Somehow this hunt didn’t sound as civilized as the ones we did once a week. “What did Rick say?”
“He said that he was concerned about you. He doesn’t think you’re ready…”
“Of course I am!” I shouted, “I’ll convince him, don’t worry.”
Christov smiled and stepped in, closing the space between us abruptly. His mind was buzzing with thoughts I couldn’t begin to decipher.
“How did last night’s hunt go?” he whispered.
“Okay. The kid survived.”
He drew up the corners of his mouth into a playful smile. “Good, no point in letting innocents die, right? We’re not savages.”
“Where to next?”
“Claire said something about some store… Blue and Cream. Then we’ll meet Rick and MacKenzie at…” my mind flashed suddenly to last night and my dream. “Christov!”
“That’s my name,” he laughed.
“You’re a pure blood.”
“So they tell me… what’s going on?”
“Have you heard of something called the blood book?”
His spine straightened, his eyes sharpened. “Why do you ask?”
“I don’t know, it’s just…”
“It’s just a book of stories. Like Aesop’s Fables, but for vampires. It’s all nonsense so just forget about it.”
“But I don’t think…”
“Madeline,” his voice was a magnet for my attention. “Forget…”
“Christov Bardzecki?” Claire said as she stepped out of the store.
I shook my head and tried to focus my eyes on Claire, but all of a sudden I felt faint.
“What brings you here?” Claire continued.
“Oh, nothing, just thought I’d stop by to see my favorite family! That color looks incredible on you, Mrs. Lockwood. What would you call that, chartreuse?”
“Hmm, more of a canary yellow I’d say. But in this lighting I suppose…”
“Can we go already? This conversation is making my brain hurt,” Natalie interrupted.
“Well, I suppose we should be going if we want to stay on schedule. Would you like to come along, Christov?”
He shot a sideways glance at me before answering, “No, thank you, I should be getting back to the city. My dad wanted me working in the store today. So I’ll be taking off. I’ll be seeing you all shortly though. Apparently my dad and Mr. Lockwood are going into business together.”
“So I hear, expanding your father’s grocery company, isn’t that right?”
“Yes, but dad’s a total goof at the numbers. He needs Mr. Lockwood’s financial expertise.”
“Is that what Dmitri said? He’s too kind! And Rick is already so proud, you better not repeat that around him! Well, see you soon Christov. Have a safe drive home.”
“Goodbye, Mrs. Lockwood. Natalie, Madeline.” He left us then, his hand brushing mine as he departed.
by Sabrina Yates