How could my life be over? I mean really I was just twenty one. I had yet to bury my mom and here this vampire was telling me it would be better? Harry was very handsome and persuasive but not exactly my new best friend. Add in that I had been bitten and bruised while I slept. What puzzled me was how could I have stayed asleep right through it all? Plagued with insomnia all my life I knew what a light sleeper I was. A bird chirped outside on the tree near my bedroom and I snapped awake. When the seasonal weather changes brought out various animals and insects into the night I was a walking zombie for the lack of sleep. So that someone could bruise me without my knowledge was truly strange.
"What do I have to do?" I finally came out with while mentally screaming at the sudden wrong turn my life had taken. My bruises were throbbing with something that felt oddly like desire. I didn't even want to ask my mind what it wanted. I had the scary feeling my body was craving some more of what Harry had to offer. No matter what I had wanted I was pretty much in trouble.
"Trust me." Harry said with absolute sincerity.
I had known this creature less than a week and I was supposed to trust him after he said I had no life left other than just what he had to offer. I quietly considered what I had witnessed. The casual way he had snapped Frances' neck after he had put his teeth -- his fangs -- into her and drank from her was not exactly giving me warm and happy feelings.
Silently I looked into Harry's eyes. He was being honest with me. As well as he could be. I didn't have much of a choice.
"Of course." What else could I say? Whether if I could trust him or not wasn't even coming into play. I looked around the Gregg home and thought of the odd thing Harry had mentioned when we first were walking up to the front door.
"Harry, why did you ask if the Winters lived here?" He had said something about a trust, I seemed to recall. What with a dead body and vampire actions my brain was a bit full, go figure.
Nodding he said, "My research had this as a residence owned by the Winters. And obviously that was not well known to anyone in town. So why do they have multiple houses?"
"Probably because they are wealthy." I shrugged. I never understood all the ins and outs of the town. Never wanted to either.
He looked thoughtful then said, "Maybe but the research was more along legal and vampiric. The vampires had them down as living here. That was where the problem comes up. They lied to vampires. Most vampire minion can't even think of lying to vampires without pain and misery."
Guess that was good to know, I thought, seeing how Harry claims that is my fate. I shuddered at that image. I liked my smile. It was mine. Not perfect, slightly off kilter, but mine. The idea of fangs flowing out from my face just seemed too weird.
Harry laughed. I hadn't said anything so I arched an eyebrow.
"Nothing, Gwendolyn, you are just very refreshing. Your father would have enjoyed you." He smiled.
The concept of my father was still vague anyway so that was pretty meaningless to me but nice to hear I guess. I think he was complimenting me. My mom and I hadn't a ton of males around us so I didn't have much emotions tied up with how men did or didn't interact with me.
"Which father?" I felt mean asking but hey, he was the one that had volunteered that Seth hadn't been my natural dad.
Harry's face shut down a moment and he said, "Point taken." He grew silent. Somewhere in the house a grandfather clock chimed the half hour. I wasn't even sure what hour other than after dark. After dark was not a good time anymore in this town from all Harry had said. I didn't doubt it either.
The sounds of the house were starting to creep me out. I could hear in the distance a tree branch hitting an upstairs window as the wind whipped around outside blowing more cold air. The radiators hissed out steam in the corner of the room and from other part of the house in a discordant angry sizzle. I felt like I was being watched. Then a pair of eyes opened up and pulled away from the curtains revealing a large oversized house cat. The smoky gray cat watched me as it slinked into the center of the room. Harry turned to see what I was staring at behind him and took a step towards the monstrously large feline. The amber eyes rolled past him over to me.
The cat paced towards me talking. The cat kept complaining and yowling about whatever problems had arisen in its furry little noggin. I noticed the cat never stopped staring at me. The cat reached my side and began to purr and rub my leg. I looked over to Harry and he was agog at what was happening. I was pretty glad it wasn't just me finding all of this a bit odd.
"You have a cat? Nowhere did anyone mention a cat. Did it follow us here?" Harry asked softly as if afraid the cat could understand our words.
"No, not mine." The cat seemed to make my words a lie as it purred even louder while continuing the litany of growl and yowls. The rubbing was pleasant but the cat speak was more than a bit unnerving. I nearly could understand the animal. She, I had determined her sex while she was twining in and around my legs, was upset at having been left alone by the people. The smell of death was bothering her nose and she was very hungry.
Reluctantly I reached down to rub the top of the cat's head. She arched her neck to help me find the spot she wanted me to touch. I crouched down next to her and continued to fondle the shadow colored cat. Her size was amazing. She had to weigh at least twenty pounds. She wasn't fat but sinew and solid. Harry was making some sound at me.
I looked up to see him standing back and waiting for me to glance up.
"What?" I continued to pet the cat. I don't think I had much of a choice. She was not speaking anymore but running her purr motor at top speed. I never had pets and was pretty surprised at how soft her fur was.
"I asked if you knew who's cat that was?" He was less than amused at my ignoring his question. I hadn't heard him.
"I think she was Frances Gregg's cat." The cat stopped rubbing and let out a noise. It was somewhere between a howl and a snarling sound. Pretty unpleasant and a tad disturbing, I thought. Harry said, "Well, that is unfortunate."
To say the least. Seeing how he had killed the cat's owner I didn't think the cat would go near him. He had to be scented with her death and her blood. To both Harry and my surprise the cat ambled away from me and began to mark Harry and purr. Fickle kitty that was apparent. I got up and rubbed my hands down my legs to get rid of the stray hairs that were on me. Briskly brushing them off as best as I could I watched Harry crouch down and minister to the cat. She was certainly demanding. But given her owner it didn't greatly surprise me. She was probably some exotic breed only found in rare books and expensive pet shops.
"What should we do with her?" I asked. I felt bad for the animal.
Harry looked flummoxed by my question. I don't think he even had thought to consider we had to do anything. Seemed like Harry didn't always like to clean up his messes, after all Evan was with Junior disposing of Frances and here was their cat upset. I waited.
"Can't we leave her here for Evan to take care of?" Harry said assertively.
"I think Junior Bartell implied it would take a while to take care of her." I felt awkward mentioning it but it had to be said.
"She needs to be fed." I said directly to Harry while watching the cat abandon him and come to me.
Her eyes flashed and she flipped around and began to walk away. When I didn't immediately follow her she turned around and began her odd cry speaking.
Harry laughed, "Seems she is going to show you were her food is."
It certainly appeared so. Together we walked behind the cat. She paused to lick her tail while we caught up. Once we neared her she ran ahead and through a large door. The house was immense and overstuffed with dark furniture. On some of the shelves we passed in the wide hallway were leather bound books and glass paperweights. Everything had been meticulously cleaned and polished. I doubted Frances Gregg did the work. She wasn't known for doing much of anything.
The kitchen was dark and Harry found the light switch quickly. The lighting was poor. Shadows stretched out from the corners into the center of the room. Everything was pristine and unused looking except for the placemat on the floor with two bowls.
In the event we weren't sure where the cat ate she went to the bowls and let out a loud howl. Then with a swift paw movement she deliberately tipped over the bowl filled with water. The flow of water entirely missed the cat as she literally leaped straight up onto the countertop and let out a cry while swatting at the knob on the cupboard above her head. Gingerly I walked around the puddle of water and opened it up. Sure enough there were stacks of cans and boxes of cat food in the space. No other food items. Just cat treats and meals on the shelves. The can opener was directly beneath the cupboard and the cat looked at me then pounced back down in front of her dishes. She let out another yelp of noise in case I hadn't figured out the process. Harry sat at the table and laughed.
"So who's training who?" He asked. I shot him a look and grabbed a can of some sort of salmon dinner while dropping paper towels into the spilled water. He never moved from his spot. He watched me fuss out the goopy mess and listened to the cat lecture me with murmurs and purrs as I prepared the dish. I must have done something right because she kept tangling through my legs and purring. Once I placed the dish in front of her she continued making purring sounds while eating. I filled the water dish again and dropped the cans and paper towels into the trashcan underneath the sink.
The cat finished the food quickly and began to lick her fur. Feeling like we were watching something we shouldn't, I sat with Harry at the table.
"Now what?" I asked. Was I supposed let him bite me or what? I hadn't a clue.
Smiling Harry said, "We probably should leave here and get over to the Winters' house. They have some explaining to do, at the least."
Thinking about it for a minute I decided to ask, "Are you going to kill them too?"
His teeth grew a bit longer and he didn't answer me. I guess that was for the best. I would rather just be surprised. Or not. This was all far too complicated for me.
We left the kitchen and the cat followed us chattering at us the whole time. Once we got to the front door the cat sat and watched us still making growls and rumbling noises. I looked at Harry and shrugged.
Sighing Harry said, "The cat belongs here."
I stayed quiet while the furry beast kept haranguing Harry pleading her case. Finally Harry said, "Here it is. We are not picking you up." He was speaking to the cat. "If you want to follow us I guess you can and we will figure out what to do with you later. Fair enough?"
The cat licked her paw slowly and went to the door. I guess she spoke better human/vampire than we spoke cat. Harry opened the door and out went the cat. She ran ahead of us and began to go towards the Winters' house. I was impressed.
Shaking his head Harry said, "I guess we need to keep up with her."