Todd and Sam were apprehensive about visiting Hayden in his own home. But they were running out of choices.
Todd was hoping that Hayden was still around and hadn’t sneaked off into the night as he drove past the thick bushes and massive trees that outlined Hayden’s remote plot of land. He wasn’t too eager to face Hayden on his home turf. He glanced across at Sam, who seemed to be having his own doubts—judging by the amount of squirming he was doing in his seat. They drove up to the house that stood silently waiting for them.
A warm wind was rustling through the leaves of the tall trees that shrouded the bleak house. Low-hanging limbs swiped at their legs with their long, skinny fingers as they walked up the gravel path. The wind blew leaves in circles around their feet, trying to slow their ascent up the steep stairs. They crunched through the fallen leaves to reach the front door.
Todd couldn’t locate a bell, so he rapped loudly with his knuckles. There was no answer. The door began to drift open on its own. A long, dark hallway gradually came into view. Rare masterpieces lined both walls, starkly illuminated against the muted walls by bright spotlights suspended from high above.
The deafening silence felt alive and heavy—as if someone was there with them waiting, but not yet willing to reveal himself. A cold draft hit them. In the translucent stream of air, Todd could see shadowy forms fighting against each other, struggling to break free. “Are those vampires caught in the wind?” asked Todd, beginning to regret his decision to enter the house without sufficient back-up. “Did you notice those strange forms floating in the air?”
He continued, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Not hearing a response from Sam, he tried to downplay his concern a little. “It could have been just an elaborate illusion.”
When Sam still didn’t respond, Todd turned around and found him standing as still as a statue, eyeing the flow of air with fear in his eyes. “Sam? Are you still with me?” Sam didn’t answer or move a muscle.
Todd knew that he had to continue on with the search—with or without Sam. He called out Hayden’s name, his voice echoing down the empty corridor. Still no one answered.
He followed the faintly lit hallway until its end, where it opened onto a huge oval-shaped ballroom. He stood in the center of the room in the bright light cast by the enormous crystal chandelier. The light reflecting from the hanging crystals shot colorful prisms of light across the multitude of artwork all around him. Hundreds of statues by eminent artists were haphazardly scattered about the shiny marble floor; the walls were decorated with priceless paintings in massive frames.
He wandered through the ballroom and recognized Rembrandts, Picassos, and even Renoirs, filling every available space on the gilded walls. At the back of the room, he noticed a circular staircase with elaborate gold railings, leading up through the ceiling to the floor above.
“There are no other rooms on the main floor, so we might as well check upstairs.” Surprised to hear Sam’s voice, Todd spun around to find him standing right behind him. Todd slowly nodded his head in agreement, even though he suspected that this was what Hayden expected them to do next. It was almost if Hayden had put out a sign that read: “Stupid human vampires! Come up my staircase at your own risk!”
As soon as they began to climb the stairs, the air turned colder and more frigid.
Todd was having doubts about his relationship with Linda. Life wasn’t always perfect in Oasis.
Todd was beginning to doubt the wisdom of his decision to include Linda into his dark life. He didn’t know if he should ever turn her into a human vampire. He feared the possibility that one day she might regret her choice, once she saw how her life had been turned upside down, and once she realized that she had to exist on the dark side with no turning back.
Human vampires had to be extremely careful in order to fit in well with the rest of society—without allowing anyone to dig up their dark secrets. They lived in their own little society—separate from the rest of the world, without truly fitting in with vampires or humans. It was a hard secret to carry around every day. He’d had to carry this secret for years with only the elders and the other human vampires knowing his bitter truth.
Even though he wasn’t a full vampire, the temptation to drink blood was always present. Human vampires could be very easily turned by a vampire. Vampires held the lure of great power and immortality. Once human blood was tasted, there was no going back. The older human vampires in town had turned at the end, and he sadly realized there was no guarantee that any of them wouldn’t turn in the future. Their meager powers as human vampires did not make up for their lack of a normal life, and were nothing at all compared to the almost limitless powers of vampires.
Linda had already fallen prey to Wolf’s magnetic spell, which could mean that others like him might be able to tempt her away from her human side and woo her with the rough, seedy playground of demons—filled with weapons, gore, and sick games. However, as he gazed into Linda’s trusting eyes, he knew in his heart that he had always trusted her and always would. He really didn’t believe that she would ever switch sides. But he still wasn’t sure if vampirism was right for her. She was pure and innocent, and he wanted her to remain that way. Because he wanted and desired her was not a good enough reason to have her give up her life.