Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One) (6 page)

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
6.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

I ran
in the direction of the door, but didn’t get too far on my gelatinous legs. Seeing dozens of white flecks dancing before my eyes, I shook my head back and forth dazedly. Michael and Marlena ran to my side and eased me down onto the sofa. Michael placed a satin pillow behind my head. Marlena fanned my face with a magazine.

“Do you think she
believes us now?” Michael asked.

I nodded my he
ad once, shadows enveloping my view of the ceiling.

 

SIX

 

I came
to minutes later, momentarily confused by the taupe ceiling above me. I nearly forgot where I was until I discovered the three sets of spectral eyes peering down at me anxiously.

Michael
was at my side in an instant. “Are you alright, dear?” he said. The doting grandmother was back.

I sat up. “I’m
fine. Really,” I said. “You took me by surprise is all.”

Stephano
and Marlena stared at me like I was a poisonous creature about to pounce.

I still couldn’t process
what I had just witnessed. I just couldn’t. I needed a moment to think.

I sat in sile
nce, taking a few cleansing breaths. Once I felt relatively whole again, I lifted the cup off the coffee table, gulping down what was left of my cappuccino. My three companions gaped at me in amazement.

“Okay,” I said, pulling down the
skirt of my dress. “Assuming that I haven’t lost my mind, and that I’m not hallucinating, let me try to get this straight. You three are… vampires?” I felt ridiculous even saying the word.

Micha
el nodded. “Yes, and-”

I held up my hand and shushed
him. Stephano let out a chuckle. This amused him, me silencing Michael.

“Right. So, as I was saying, the three of you are vampires, you run a business for
other
vampires, and you want me to work for you as chaperone
to these vampires. Is that right?”

Michael and Marlena nodded. Stephan
o smiled. “I like her,” he smirked. “She’s a spitfire.”

Taking no notice of
him, I continued. “What I don’t understand is what you need
me
for. Why would any vampire want to hang out with a human, if not to eat them?”

“That’s a very good question,
” Marlena said. Her voice was one of a politician. “As you can imagine, vampires wish to continue going unnoticed. However, with the advent of technology like the internet and camera phones, it’s becoming more and more difficult for us to remain underground.”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “How many of you
are
there?” I had so many questions that I wanted answered, now feeling more curious than scared.

Marlena shrugged. “I honestly don’t know how many vampires there are in the world. I imagine that there are thousands, maybe
even hundreds of thousands.”

“I don’t believe it,” I murmured.

“Oh, believe it, Mercy,” Stephano chimed in. “We’re everywhere. Most humans don’t tend to notice us, as we can only come out after sunset.”

“T
hat whole bit about you guys going up in flames in the sunlight is
true
?”

“I am
afraid so,” Michael answered.

“Now, as far as why we want you to work for us,”
Marlena said, keeping us on topic, “let’s just say that humans help us blend in with mainstream society.”

“In what way?”
I asked.

“A
s I mentioned before,” Michael said, “our clients are extremely wealthy. And with great wealth comes obligations. Dignitary clients have benefit dinners and galas that they must continuously attend. These are events which are typically hosted by human-owned businesses, and are only for the uber rich. You see, many vampires have acquired great wealth because we have been alive for so long. As such, the humans we typically mix with are also-”

“Loaded,” I said.

“Exactly. Honestly, Mercy, you would be surprised to learn how many wholesome household brands are actually owned by vampire CEO’s,” Michael smiled. “Certainly, there are impoverished vampires, too, just as there are rich humans and poor humans. Anyhow, without further digression, and to answer your question, having a human at our side allows us to maintain our façade. Some vampires can easily pass for humans, while others appear more… unearthly.
Whatever the case,
when we have a living, breathing human at our side, we stand out less amongst our human associates.  ”

I mulled this over. “I guess that
makes sense. Do any other humans- other than the ones working for Dignitary- know of your existence?”

“A few
do, yes,” Marlena said, jumping in. “But it’s only at the vampire’s discretion. This is also why we have a need for chaperones. Most humans feel ill-at-ease when they’re alone with a vampire, particularly when discussing business matters. The chaperones that we provide act as buffers, serving the purpose of alleviating the stress humans feel at corporate proceedings like contract signings.”

“That is no
t to say, though,” Michael interjected, “that our chaperones only go to places where other humans will be present. You may sometimes go to vampire-only venues and be the only living person in the room. As strange as it sounds, having a human on your arm is a bit of a status symbol in the vampire world.”


Really? Why is that?” I asked.

“T
hink about it,” Michael answered. “To vampires,
humans
are the exotic creatures. Sure, we encounter them every night, but do we ever get to really interact with them?
No
.”

“Okay…”


What I am about to say may sound horrible to you, Mercy, but I swear to you that I am not intending it as such. For a vampire to have a human at their side is on par with a human possessing an exotic beast, like a tiger. Although vampires were once human themselves, some may have been turned so long ago that they have forgotten what it is like. As such, vampires want to be close to you, to learn about you. We are envious of humans in many ways: how they can eat food, drink wine, and walk in the sun. It gets a little lonely and monotonous, only associating with other vampires.”


Hmm,” I murmured. Everything made sense when he explained it that way. Vampires sounded like such a sad species. I kind of felt sorry for them, feeling regretful about the way that I’d reacted during Stephano’s big ceiling reveal.

“Also, because our clients know that you
are aware of what they truly are, they can be themselves,” Michael said. “You have no idea how tiring it is for us to have to constantly make up excuses about why we are not eating, why we are so pale, and why we can only have meetings at night. Humans can be so nosey, no offense. With a
hired human
around- again, I am not trying to be derogatory with such straightforward terminology- we have a built-in scapegoat. We can blame our inability to meet before sundown on your work schedule, and explain away our lack of appetite by claiming that we have already dined with you.”

“While we’re on the subject of dining…” I v
entured. “To borrow your terminology, Michael, I intend no offense by what I’m about to ask. The thing is, though, I’m a little concerned about my safety. Have your vampire clients every, umm, bitten any of your chaperones?”

Michael, Marlena,
and Stephano snickered in unison. The back of my neck prickled in embarrassment.
I
thought that it was a valid question.

“Oh, heavens no!” Michael chuckled. “No, we vampires sorted out our feeding problems long ago. We buy our plasma at blood banks just as humans go to the grocery store to buy milk. It has not always been that way, but throughout the centuries vampires have needed to evolve in order to keep up with the times. We cannot just go around killing people; there would be repercussions. It is the same for humans. That is not to say that some vampires do not slipup from time to time, just like humans do. But none of our clients ever have. Not once in the ninety-seven years that we have been in business.”

I still had my doubts.
It sounded a little too packaged and perfect. “So, nobody has even been hurt, then?”

Stephano
opened his mouth to answer, but Marlena delivered him a brutal assault of dagger eyes, silencing him promptly. Michael and Marlena exchanged a quick nonverbal dialogue that only husband and wife seem to be capable of having.

Michael l
ooked deflated. “I guess there is no point in hiding this,” he said. “If you do end up working for us, you are going to hear it from one of the other chaperones anyway. I rather you hear it from me, so at the very least your opinion of vampires will not be tainted by their speculations. Some of the chaperones have quite
vivid
imaginations.”

This did not sound good. I k
new there had to be a catch (well, in addition to the whole vampire part).

“Umm, okay,” I said.

“Throughout the years,” Michael continued unhappily, “a few girls have disappeared. Before you ask,
no
, none of them have ever disappeared while chaperoning our clients.”

“What happened to them?” My voice was almost a whisper.

Michael shrugged. “I honestly do not know. One day they were here, working for us regularly as a chaperone. The next-
poof
- they were gone. Honestly, Mercy, it breaks my heart because I do not know what became of any of them. There have been four girls who have vanished throughout the years: one in 1924, one in 1963, one in 1985, and then the last one.”

I shuttered.
“When did the last one disappear, Michael?” I asked.

“She- Penelope- vanished just last month.

Last month!

“I am telling you, Mercy, it was like she literally disappeared from the face of the earth. Everything she owned was left inside her apartment: clothes, furniture, wallet, and even an envelope filled with five thousand dollars in cash.”

He dabbed at his eye
s self-consciously. “Sorry,” he muttered. “She worked for us for a little over three years. I thought of her like a daughter.”

After he composed himself
, I softly asked, “What makes you think that vampires had nothing to do with the disappearance? It seems like too much of a coincidence.”

“W
e are talking about only
four
girls vanishing in a time span of almost
ninety
years, Mercy,” Marlena said dismissively. “I’m sure even human businesses have had a few employees go missing during the same amount of time.”

“I guess so,” I said, not convinced. I’m sure she wouldn’t think of it as “only” if she’d been the one to disappear.

“There is
what Marlena said,” Michael piped in, “plus the fact that vampires have no reason to hurt our employees. Our chaperones unequivocally know that they are going to be associating with vampires, and the vampires know just as equally that they will be associating with humans. So, it is not as if the chaperones will be exposed to some detail that they did not already know that would then make a vampire want to harm them. When a person is a chaperone for Dignitary, and when a client hires one, both parties are in the know. Vampires no longer have their secrets to hide.”


Furthermore,” Marlena chimed in, “some of the girls didn’t exactly have their heads glued on straight.” She rolled her eyes, accentuating her point.

Her frequent interruptions were
really starting to piss me off. I thought I’d made it abundantly clear that I’d directed my question to Michael. Her superior tone also left something to be desired. It didn’t take a fortune teller to see that she believed she possessed a superior intellect to everyone in the room, maybe even everyone on the planet for that matter. I’d gone to Dewhurst; it wasn’t the first time I’d encountered a person who behaved in such a manner.

I gave up on liking the woman.
I figured that I’d done my civic duty for the greater good of womankind by giving Marlena, a fellow female, the benefit of the doubt. I couldn’t help it if she was turning out to be a real bitch.

“What do you mean?” I
asked pleasantly, cocking my head to one side.

“U
mm…” she faltered, surprised by my question. It didn’t take her long to recover. “Raquel, the girl who vanished back in the twenties, was a bit unpredictable. She was a stage actress, always chasing her next big break in Hollywood. She was sweet, but a bit naïve. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’d landed herself in a mess with a crooked man who claimed to be a director. It wasn’t uncommon for actresses to disappear back then. A lot of unscrupulous men took advantage.”

“Poor girl,” I said.

“Indeed,” Marlena responded with the utmost insincerity. She drummed her chin with her blood red lacquered fingernails. “Oh, then there was Daisy, the girl who went missing in the sixties. She was a beautiful little thing, but
such
a flake. Anyway, she was always hitching rides and hopping on tour buses, so no telling what happened to her.”

The woman had an answer for everything.

It was evident that both Michael and Stephano didn’t exactly buy into Marlena’s propaganda, but they remained quiet. I didn’t blame them. I’d hate to tangle with her, too.

Something told me that Marlena
had a knack for rebuking those who dared to contradict her. Her demeanor made me think of a program on rainforest animals I’d once watched on
Discovery Channel
. At one point during the show, a gorgeous black panther glided into view. The film crew halted as the camera man gasped, “Nobody move! This is one beautiful but ferocious beast that is best left alone. One wrong move and she could very easily claw our faces off.”

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
6.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Something Red by Douglas Nicholas
Cinder by Jessica Sorensen
Riley Park by Diane Tullson
The Cub Club by Serena Pettus
The Dark Hour by Robin Burcell