My smile faded quickly. The reporter had been extremely intrusive with his ambushing-window approach to me, but I don't think the kicking and beating he was getting was totally deserved. And from the screams still coming from my yard the beatings hadn't stopped once I'd pulled the blinds shut. Another squeal, then there was an abrupt silence from the man; I sighed and noticed then that even the birds weren't chirping in any of the trees that lined my yard.
My sixteenth birthday was certainly going way off any type of normal course. First my nightmare-slash-reality of a night. Then my finding out from some vampires that I was some sort of weird supernatural creature that needed protection from others was added into the mix. Hell, who was I kidding, finding out that there were vampires should have been top of the list, right? And let me not forget, my parents' deaths rapidly becoming the hottest local news story around, resulting in the invasion by the 'perfect people of the press' both live and Memorex. Not that the old-fashioned answering machine -- complete with a tape in the machine to keep the messages -- appeared to be working as anything other than a speaker for another creepy crawler.
The very same creep who was hidden while sitting behind the tinted-windowed sedan that was idling either in the driveway or along side my home on the front street, probably underneath one of the shady mock pear trees that lined the area. And he also kept calling the house phone and telling me in a darkly nasty voice to let him inside my house. I was sixteen, not stupid. I knew better than letting strangers inside, much less totally creepy strangers who called and threatened me when I didn't answer his malevolent calls. His driver was the one currently kicking the crap out of the nosey reporter who had tried to interview me unasked through the kitchen window over the sink. From the shrieks and thumps I heard, that hadn't worked out very well for him.
What was really disturbing was that I didn't even hear the cameraman who'd been filming the encounter shout stop. Good old-fashioned ethics went right out the window when it came to a good lead I guess. The old adage, "If it bleeds it leads" certainly was that news station's motto from what I saw through the narrow slats in the blinds. I wondered how they'd tease the spot during the commercial news bites that sprinkled the day right before noon or five o'clock news. In my mind I had the tag something like, "Local newsman mangled by a madman, film at the top of the hour." That seemed sick enough. I cringed as I wondered if I had to call an ambulance for the guy or if his cameraman would eventually shove him into the back of the van so they could get live-action footage at the emergency room.
Worried, I went into the dining room and chanced a peek outside. To my vast relief, my second thought apparently had been correct. The cameraman held his large camera set up in his right paw and half-dragged the disheveled and beaten newsman in his left. I was pretty impressed by the cameraman's strength since the beaten man was actually able to stumble along with the support through my backyard without landing face first on the lawn. The reporter no longer looked glossy but very bloody and quite raw. Not wanting to be spotted I dipped back quickly away from the blinds. Naturally the phone rang again.
After my dad's answering message stopped, the odd voice punched into the room from the answering machine speaker, "Esmeralda Meredith. That is enough of your childishness. Come open the door. You saw that I am willing to protect you. Let me in and I will show you the world." So much for his last phone call statement where he'd given me his 'final warning;' it seemed his idea of final and mine vastly varied. Sighing, I waited for him to speak again, knowing that he wasn't done with his speech and direct threats. Such a charmer -- not.
Silence while the creature waited in vain for something from me. He could die on the other end of the phone for all I cared. No way was I going to touch the phone or open the door to him. I shook my head wordlessly and huddled back against an interior wall past the kitchen into the family room. Just the thought of him even being able to be anywhere near me caused my skin to crawl. He gave me serious heebie-jeebies. I trusted that instinct.
Automatically I glanced at one of the clocks my mom had in her curio cabinet on the opposite wall and was somewhat relieved to see it was well into the afternoon. I wondered how I could contact that vampire I'd met last night, Master Harry. He seemed trustworthy while the creep trying to get me to open up for him struck me as a deadly nightmare no matter what time it was day or night. In fact, I could feel his ugly, almost suffocating need. He hadn't hung up the phone and again his anger lashed out, "You will pay. Mark my words."
Puffing out a frustrated breath of air, I didn't want to 'mark' anything for that creature. He wanted me to trust him and I, on the other hand, wanted him long gone and definitely well forgotten. Even though he'd appeared to be handsome on the television newscast where I'd watched him try to lay claim to me like a lost puppy, I doubted that was his true face and body. The men and women from the press who'd been camped outside waiting to ambush me hadn't found him odd or ugly, but very tempting. I didn't think he'd withstand some basic tests for humanity. But for all I knew there were equally odd things in me that I'd yet to discover since the night before. It didn't matter because what I really needed was to figure out how to contact the vampire Harry. He'd know what I should do. I found myself rocking on my heels on the floor while trying to think.
A hiss then, "You stupid little bitch. You think anyone wants you around? You didn't listen to the messenger we sent, Rory -- he was to bring you in last night when you awakened to your true nature. It took years to line up that meeting last night and you blew it. We were going to let you be part of the changes, but it looks like you aren't the proper material. Now, come, let me in and we can talk. And just maybe you can stay alive." He slammed down his side of the phone and I shook furious and afraid.
With a rapidly thumping heart, I wanted my bed with my comfy covers pulled over my head and to simply shut out the violence-laced voice that kept calling me. I shut my eyes and let my forehead rest on my knees with my arms clutching my legs loosely. Quietly I exhaled once then jerked. And just like that I was in my bed with my covers over me, still folded in on my self, hugging my legs. I didn't know how but suddenly I was exactly where I'd desired. Shivering, I opened my eyes to double-check my thought and sure enough I was back in my room. I hadn't gotten off the floor in the family room and walked but rather I'd popped. There was no other word I could think of but pop. My ears were still ringing slightly so I swallowed and felt the pressure ease. I'd moved myself by thought.
A giggle threatened to burble out of my lips over the absurdity of it all. I mean how the hell had I done it? The nightmare from the night before where I had been sleeping and then somehow not, but instead on a beach with vampires came racing back to me. Part of me was still trying to convince my mind that maybe vampires didn't exist or maybe the sandman actually brought sand last night. I wasn't doing a very good job of denying the evening's entertainment, but with the light of day it all seemed to be some hallucination. With my tush firmly parked in the middle of my bed I wasn't doing a very good job of swimming on denial.
Speaking of swimming, I felt my eyes brimming with tears that spilt down my cheeks. I was alone and scared. Aching from the sudden choked-back sobs that pushed at my chest and throat I let the tears fall silently. I didn't want to risk that creature hearing me. I felt an itch in the back of my mind then a soft, "Esmeralda, can you hear me?"
Stunned, I pushed the covers off me and looked around my room. There wasn't anybody standing near me but I recognized the voice. It was the vampire Harry's voice. Rubbing the back of my hand across my cheek I flicked the tears off my face and thought hesitantly, "Yes?"
To my relief I felt happier and safer.
"Good, we did connect. You are in trouble, right?" It was a question but not. Harry somehow had tapped my fears from wherever he lived.
"Yep." I saw no reason to elaborate.
"You moved just a few moments ago, didn't you?" His question was soft.
"You are scared." He was speaking quietly in my mind yet I wasn't freaked out. I wasn't as scared just hearing the vampire. I had to admit to vampires now despite my awkward attempt at denial.
"Do you want me to come there?"
"It would take too long. Besides you may have caught my life on camera since yesterday if you saw the news this morning. I am pretty sure the story went national, with all those reporters." I wasn't sure why I was mentally chattering to Harry but it seemed like the right thing to do.
I could feel his laughter rolling over my mind as he soundlessly laughed.
"Not big on TV. But sounds bad."
"Worse. Something else wants me. It showed up claiming me in front of the reporters and wants me to let it in." I softly replied.
"It?" Puzzlement laced Harry's thoughts.
"Not human. Not sure what flavor, but definitely not nice, whatever it is. Pretending to own me, then calling to threaten to harm me for not going with Rory. I figured it wasn't good." I didn't over dramatize the situation but stated it like I saw it.
"Esmeralda, you are going to need to trust me."
This time I was the one mind-laughing. My mirth spilt out into his thoughts and I felt him relax.
"You are in my mind. You know I must trust you to do that." I stated the obvious once my giggles slowed.
"Once I met you, I sent one of my associates to catch a red-eye flight out to you. The woman's name is Penny. She should be at your house within an hour." I found myself nodding.
"What about the unwanted pest on the doorstep?" The creature did scare me.
"Here's where the trust comes in. You need to pick a spot near your home that you feel would be safe and pretty deserted in an hour. Then you will go there." He said very softly.
"I can't leave the house, I'd be ambushed by the creature or the press." I felt my anxiety rising.
Again laughter rocked me through Harry's thoughts. "You are going to pop there." He'd used my word. I felt like I was spinning out of control but at the same time it made sense.
"I need you to tell me where it is so Penny can meet you there." His patience was comforting.
I frantically thought and then said, "It's Saturday. I think my school will be pretty empty. The music room has an outside patio that the kids use to sneak smokes. Nobody should be there. I think I'll go there sooner than later. I don't trust that creature not to find a way to get me."
Harry didn't answer but gave me a description of Penny along with a password. I appreciated the thought and shut him out of my mind. It was already shaping into a weird day. My life had definitely changed. Sighing, I began to dress for the unknown evening.