That Time With The Vampires
Chapter 5

On Sunday, I decided to stay home. I didn't want to seem like I had too much interest in the place. Monday evening after work, I decided to go back to the bakery. Omar was there, and he looked over at me when I walked inside. "So how'd it go?" he asked.

Seeing him put me in a much better mood, and I smiled. "Well, you were right about them," I said. "Completely right. They are awful."

He grinned and nodded. "Well, what did I tell ya?" he asked. "Anyway, you want something?"

I nodded and ordered an apple fritter. "I think, also, they might've murdered somebody. There was a guy who turned up missing nearby, and a faked letter came back saying he'd run off. And I don't think anyone else would want to kill somebody." Omar gave me the apple fritter, and I took a bite.

"You're saying they killed him for blood or something?" Omar asked.

I nodded. "Best idea I have so far."

He shifted a little on his feet and looked uncomfortable. "It's... possible," he said. "I mean, most of us, we aren't that careless. But... they didn't strike me as the type with a high regard for human life, and if they really thought they could get away with it, I could see it."

"Uh-huh," I said. I finished the apple fritter. "They - the guy's friends - said the cops weren't too concerned. Anyway, they - the Undying Society - got all these big ideas and basically... well, no real good plans."

He nodded. "Take it you're not going back?"

I looked at him sharply. "Hell no, I'm going back," I said. "I'm going to try and figure out what happened to that guy. See if they did it."

Omar gave me a look of amused disbelief. "Well, all right. Good luck, I guess. Try not to get eaten, huh?"

I smiled back at him. "I'll try," I said. "I gotta at least live for another doughnut."

I went back to the mansion the next Saturday, but I didn't do any serious investigating. Instead, I spent most of the time talking to Michael and Amanda, where I pretended to be won over by their talk of saving the world from itself. I came over Tuesday evening and found that a couple of vampires I hadn't met before had come over, one of whom had come all the way from Quebec. They were served blood in crystal glasses, but nothing was said of what kind of blood it was. Friday evening I tried to go back to the kitchen, but again I was intercepted by John Phillips, who reminded me that if I wanted something I could just ring a bell.

If this were a different kind of place, I'd have just waited for everyone to go to bed and start looking around. But this place having as many vampires as it did in it, at no point was everyone asleep. There was always someone awake, and in the quiet of the night every sound was all the more audible to a vampire's sensitive hearing.

What I needed more than anything was a good reason to start asking where the blood came from. A reason that wouldn't be seen as suspicious by these people. Or, I realized, perhaps what I needed was someone with a reason.

Omar, obviously - if he could be talked into it.

So on Monday I went back to the bakery. "How's it going?" Omar asked me. "Any progress?"

I shook my head. "Nope, none," I said. "Actually, I was wondering... I need to find out more about where they're getting their blood, but these guys get suspicious if I so much as get close to the kitchen."

He looked at me for a few seconds in silence before saying, "Gee."

"What?" I asked.

"I mean, you are about as subtle as a train wreck sometimes, Adry," he said.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means..." He wrapped up a cherry doughnut and set it down by me. "You get this free of charge." He smiled at me. "I'll think about it. Give me your number so I can call if I decide?" He grabbed a Steno pad and pencil from under the desk and pushed them over. I wrote down my number immediately, then pushed the pad back. He tore off the paper and put it into his jeans pocket.

With a grin on my face, I took the doughnut. "Thanks." I looked at him again, taking in how his slender frame was covered in firm muscle. What had he done to get all that?

"Hey, Adry," Omar said with a chuckle. "I gotta get back to work, okay? We can get back to this later."

"Right!" I turned around and hurried out into the evening. At home I put the doughnut into the fridge, then went to bed. For awhile I wondered if he'd call me back at night (being a vampire), or if he'd wait until I was probably awake to call. What if I accidentally slept through it? I got up and moved the phone from the kitchen closer to the bedroom just in case, and I left the door open.

He didn't call all night, and I woke up the next morning wondering whether that meant he was disinterested, or whether he decided I was probably asleep and should wait. I got up and ate the pastry, then got ready and went to work. I wondered if I should have given him my work phone number, then reminded myself that he could call me this evening.

When my day was over, I went home. I could have gone to the bakery, but I didn't want to look like I was desperate or panicking for an answer. So I turned on the radio to listen to the news, and mended a couple of shirts.

At last the phone rang, and I jumped over and grabbed the receiver. "Hello?"

"Hey, Adry? This is Omar," he said in a cheery voice. "I've decided what I want to do here."

"Yes?" I asked. I hoped I didn't sound too anxious.

"Yeah. Mind if we meet over coffee? It'll be easier than talking over the phone."

"Yeah!" I said. I was sure I sounded just a little too enthusiastic. "Yeah, it'll be fine. Where do you wanna meet?"

"There's a diner on the corner near the bakery," he told me. "See ya there at nine?"

"Nine's good," I said. "See ya! Bye!"


I put handset back on the receiver and went to the bathroom to make sure I didn't look awful. Then I checked the clock, and it was... seven. I had two hours to kill. I sighed and went back to my sewing, and checked the clock every few minutes or so. Finally the hour hand neared the number nine, and I threw everything down to grab my coat and hurry out.

When I entered the diner, I saw Omar sitting in a booth already. He had on jeans and a leather jacket, and he had a cup of coffee. "Hey," I said when I came over.

He looked at me with a smile. "Hey, Adry," he said.

I sat down and looked at his face. "So, what did you decide?" I asked. I felt pretty sure that he'd accepted, because otherwise, why would he have suggested meeting me for coffee instead of just telling me no? But I didn't want to be presumptuous, let alone sound it.

"What I've decided is that I'm gonna do it," he said. "If they're doing what you think they're doing, we can't just sit by and let 'em at it." He picked his coffee up and sipped it. "We just need to make sure we have a plan." Omar set his coffee down and looked at me, his expression unusually serious and focused. "Tell me what you've got going over there. How many people, what they're like. The layout of the place."

"All right." I told him about all of the regulars at the mansion - Thomas and how he insisted on calling himself Lord Coldstone, Michael Fitch and how he seemed friendly but ultimately didn't see any flaws in their plans, Amanda Scott and her disdain for the hippies, Theodora Cole and how she often jumped to Thomas's defense, and John Phillip and how he was suspicious of just about everything I did.

Omar listened to me, occasionally sipping his coffee. "Well, if nothing else, John Phillips is either worried that you're deliberately looking for something, or that you're gonna stumble on something if you keep wandering around like that."

Then the waitress came over, and I ordered coffee. When she was gone, I looked at Omar. "Probably the first. Actually, now that I think about it - would they have anything too shady in the house? They got a lot of people coming in and out, so there's a risk that somebody might find something on accident."

Omar thought this over. "Well, they seem pretty arrogant, and arrogant always underestimates everybody else. Thinks everybody else is too stupid to put even two and two together. So it's hard to say." He shrugged. "I'll take a look when I can. Head over there soon. Obviously, we don't wanna turn up together. That'd look suspicious."

I nodded. "All right. I could come over in the afternoon, maybe you come over sometime in the evening?" I suggested.

"That'll work," he said, and finished his coffee.

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