In Memories We Fear
A Vampire Memories Novel
A series of killings in England point to a new-and feral-vampire. Vampires Eleisha and Philip and their human companion travel to London to make contact with the terrified creature, to offer him sanctuary and stop the bloodshed. But the vampire they find is not what they expected...
Wade Sheffield was on the bottom floor of the church, doing curls with a set of free weights he'd bought last month.
He'd been living here, since the previous spring, with three vampires and a ghost. He was probably the only mortal in the world more comfortable with the undead than he was with normal people, but he'd been able to read minds all his life, and "normal people" did not enjoy his company.
So now the five of them were trying to make this old brick church into a home. They nicknamed the building "the underground."
The main floor comprised a large sanctuary, complete with stained glass windows, and two offices. Wade had refurnished one office, and Rose had turned the other into her bedroom.
The upstairs was not currently in use, but it sported six rooms that had once been engaged for Sunday school classes, and later, these would be used to house any lost vampires they found.
The basement comprised a three-bedroom apartment where Wade, Eleisha, and Philip lived, as well as an industrial-sized kitchen the old congregation had once used for potluck dinners. But over the summer, Wade had been turning this area into a home gym. He'd started with a simple weight machine and then moved to free weights.
In the early days of their mission, he'd believed that being educated, telepathic, and competent would be enough to make him indispensable to the group.
He'd been wrong.
Now he was working out twice a day, and Philip was teaching him how to use a sword.
After finishing a second set of curls, he was sweating, and he dropped the weights into their rack, half turning to look at the doorway; tonight he was feeling anxious, even frustrated.
Their last attempt to locate a lost vampire in Denver and bring her home had ended in complete disaster, but after a few weeks of mental recovery, Eleisha had seemed ready to "get back on the horse" and try againor so Wade thought.
Again, he'd been wrong.
Their strategy was for Wade to search out any online news stories of homicide victims drained of blood or of living people checked into hospitals with cuts or gashes that did not warrant an unexplained amount of blood loss. He'd once worked as a police psychologist, and he knew a good deal about where to search for such stories. Then, they would attempt to make contact, travel to meet the vampire, and try to bring him or her safely home to the church.
Since the end of the summer, Eleisha had always expressed polite interest in any possible stories he mentioned, but she didn't press him, and she didn't seem eager for him to find a new lead. He wasn't sure why. She should be pushing him, even working with him, doing everything she could to launch a new mission. This entire underground had been her idea, her vision, in the first place.
Had her last failure shattered her confidence? Was she afraid to try again?
To make matters worse, lately, she seemed interested only in spending time with Philip.
Well… Wade didn't know why that made matters worse. He just knew it bothered him.
Grabbing a towel, he wiped off his face and arms and headed back toward their basement apartment. He didn't stop there and went straight to the stairs, half jogging up to his office on the main floor.
He liked this room with its old, used desk he'd picked up in downtown Portland. He liked the bookshelves and all the maps and his computer. The walls were cream, and the window overlooked Eleisha's rose garden.
Dropping into the desk chair, he moved his mouse, and the computer screen lit up. Tonight he was determined to find somethinganythingto get them all out of this current state of limbo and back into some kind of action.
Opening his Internet home page, he started, as usual, with the online New York Times, skimming quickly as his mind had instinctively learned to stop on specific words or phrases. When he found nothing, a memory tickled the back of his mind, and he switched over to London's Evening Standard.
"Anything at all?" A masculine voice with a Scottish accent sounded from behind him.
Wade didn't even bother turning, but he glanced up.
Seamus de Spenser stood looking over his shoulder. Seamus' body was transparent as always. Though long dead, he looked like a young man, his brown hair hanging to his shoulders. He wore a blue and yellow Scottish plaid draped across his shoulder and held by a belt over the black breeches he had died in. The knife sheath at his hip was empty.
He was Rose's nephew, and he'd died the same night she was turnedbut he'd come back as a spirit, forever tied to her.
Seamus was a key component of their strategy. Once Wade located a possible location, he sent Seamus to investigate. As a ghost, Seamus could zero in on a vampireor anything undeadonce he was in a general vicinity. Unfortunately, he couldn't stay too long, as his spirit was tied to Rose, and the longer he stayed away from her, the weaker he became.
He and Wade worked well together, but Wade always wondered what they might look like to an outsider… the two of them studying the computer screen. Wade, in his early thirties with a slender build, viewed his own appearance as common. His only outstanding feature was a shock of white-blond hair. He hadn't cut it in more than six months, and it hung down the back of his neck. But how did he look with a six-foot-tall, transparent Scottish Highlander leaning over his shoulder?
"I've just switched to London," Wade said.
In midsummer, they'd come across a strong lead there: a news story about a "wild man" who'd attacked a woman in an alley and tried to bite her. When the police ran to intervene, their own dogs had turned on them, allowing the attacker to get away. Wade had been certain he was onto something. But Seamus hadn't been able to find anything in London, and he'd come back home on the brink of exhaustion.
"I keep telling you," Seamus said. "You're always looking in the major papers. Find a way to access smaller papers… from smaller towns."
"I know what I'm doing."
Vampires didn't live in small towns. They needed a large population to hide their feeding practices.
Seamus started to say something else, but he stopped as their eyes hit the same headline at the same moment.
Wild Man Strikes Outside British Museum
As if unaware what he was doing, Seamus began reading the story aloud. "'Late Tuesday night, a second bizarre attack took place in Bloomsbury. According to the police report, although the museum was closed, the sound of screaming brought two security guards running toward the street where they found a "dark-haired man with tattered clothes" pinning a woman against a streetlamp and biting her throat.'"
Wade looked up at him again. "'Biting her throat,'" he repeated softly. Then he took over reading. "'Two security guards, whose names have not yet been released, moved to intervene. The man broke off his attack and ran. As they pursued, three cats seemed to come "from nowhere" and attack the guards, leaving bites and scratches severe enough to send both men to the hospital. One is expected to require cosmetic surgery…'"
Wade stopped reading as the story moved on to recount the woman's injuries, complete with blood loss.
"There's something in this, Seamus," Wade said, shaking his head. "There must be."
"I tried before and couldn't pinpoint anything," Seamus answered, almost defensively, as if Wade were accusing him of failure. "What if it's just a madman who thinks he's a vampire?"
Wade tried to keep his tone even. "Then how do you explain the dogs turning on their own handlers in the first story? How do you explain these… these cats jumping in to fight off pursuit? No, there's something here."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Can you search again? Try again?"
Seamus floated a few feet back. "If you think it will do any good, I can go tonight. But I searched the entire city last time and found nothing."
He didn't sound hopeful that a new search would bring different results.
"Do you want to tell Rose good-bye?" Wade asked.
"No, you do it for me."
Wade nodded and looked at Seamus. "We're onto something." He paused, and not sure why, he added, "Find him."
Seamus tilted his transparent head to one side. Then he vanished, teleporting to London.
Philip followed Eleisha up Eleventh Avenue to the Gerding Theater at the Armory. Refurbished rockwork on the sides of the building loomed several stories high.
The emotions bubbling beneath his skin were so varied, he wasn't sure what to think or feel. A part of him was thrilled at the change in Eleisha tonight. She'd always worked hard to keep him entertainedhe knew that even if he didn't acknowledge it. But her methods normally involved finding movies he might like or reading detective novels aloud (so she could do the voices) or playing cards with him.
She had never run along a river, laughing and calling for him to catch her, and she'd certainly never suggested playing a "game" while hunting. He liked that she was trying so hard to please him. He liked being the center of her world.
But this game, along with her spirit of semiwild abandon, was dangerous for him.
Eleisha was cautious and careful and sensible, and for the past few months, he'd clung to her steady nature. He'd been trying so hard to be the man she already thought he was. Since returning from Denver, he hadn't slipped out alone and killed anyone while feeding. He'd denied himself this need for her sake, and for the sake of the underground. He was slowly beginning to see the value of a structured community built on mutual trust.
To his surprise, the longer he'd hunted "her way," the easier it became… and the less often he was hit by a hunger to inflict fear and death. He was gaining control.
Tonight, he feared that by trying to please him, she was unwittingly washing that control away. The first time they'd played this game, he'd been the one to suggest itpractically forcing it on her. But what had started out as mere fun, ended with him nearly killing a woman in a dressing room at Macy's.
For him, the joy of hunting had always culminated in his victim's death, and he'd been working hard to train himself to view hunting as nothing more than a necessity. Tonight, Eleisha was making it a sport again, and good sport ended only one way.
And yet he couldn't call this off; he wouldn't. She was trying so hard to please him, and he loved for her to please him more than anything else. He fought his instincts and vowed to keep himself in control.
"In here," she said, walking through the main doors.
"You're hardly dressed for the theater," he murmured.
"We're not going to the theater."
Philip glanced at a clock on the wall of the large main lobby. It was after nine o'clock, and the main shows normally started at eight. He wondered what Eleisha was up to. He'd half expected her to head straight for the nearest gym and point out a lesbian carrying her own hockey stick.
"Down there," Eleisha said, pointing. "The posters for new shows are downstairs."
Several people milling about inside the ticket office glanced over, but no one said anything. Eleisha headed for the large curving staircase and led him down to a lower level. They emerged into what appeared to be a smaller lobby with large closed double doors at the far end. Posters for current and upcoming shows lined the walls.
She began looking at the posters. "Intermission won't be long," she said quietly, although they were the only two people down here.
He looked at the closed doors and realized what she was doing. There was a show in progress. Even the ushers had gone inside, and she was pretending to be checking out plays to attend in the future. People probably did this all the time. Eleisha's shabby handling of her own victim may have been embarrassing, but she was certainly proving more creative in picking out his.
The doors opened, and people began pouring out, heading off to get drinks at intermission, use the restrooms, or take advantage of the water fountains. Within seconds, the empty lobby was packed with people, and the silence was replaced with a low roar of voices all discussing the disappointing performance of the lead actor.
At the moment, Eleisha was not paying attention to anything being said about the show; instead, she watched the rush of people carefully. The line at the ladies' room was already long, but she just kept scanning, and Philip felt his excitement begin to grow. Whom would she choose?
The level of dress here varied widely from women in evening gowns and heels and men in suits, all the way down to a few people in torn blue jeans. The latter annoyed Philip. He believed in dressing up for the theater.
Ten minutes passed, and Eleisha had not said a word. He began to fidget, wondering again what she was up to. The lights flickered, signaling that the show was about to begin.
"Eleisha," he whispered.
A couple carrying nearly empty glasses of white wine came down the stairs, heading casually toward the doors as if wishing to finish their drinks first. Late-middle-aged and balding, the man wore a dark gray suit with silver cuff links. The woman, younger than he, was lovely, dressed in a black silk blouse over a long silver skirt. Diamonds glittered in her ears.
"Her," Eleisha said, "but you have to draw her away from the man before they go back inside, and you have to leave her somewhere safe."
He already knew that last rule, but he was surprised by Eleisha's choice. Philip had no trouble seducing attractive womenthat was his usual mode of operation. Did she think it would be difficult for him to lure the woman away from the man before they reached the doors? Or… was she simply still trying to please him?
He was pleased.
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