Chapter 23: Hide and Seek
“Where’s Cristiãn?” Lucian queried in a demanding voice.
The sudden, loud inquiry brought all conversations to a stop, and everyone’s attention directed at Lucian. A moment later, all eyes in the main hall of the Cavern Nightclub began to search about for Cristiãn. Almost at the beginning of this confused searching about the room, Lucian was on the move for the kitchen at a hurried walk. A dozen seconds later he raced back into the main hall and stopped several paces away from Nadja.
“Where did he go?” Lucian demanded with his stare fixed on her.
As he spoke this question, Petru moved to Nadja’s side and fixed a fierce stare toward Lucian. Nadja’s demeanor remained indifferent even as she spoke her response.
“I don’t know.”
“But you do,” Lucian grumbled with a look toward Petru.
“I knew he left,” Petru hissed back. “But I don’t know where he went.”
Lucian seethed in response to this. He scanned about him for someone who knew more. After several seconds of stares and silence from the others, Lucian pulled out his cellphone and dialed out Cristiãn. With the cellphone situated next to his ear, he waited near to a minute for an answer to his call. When the call went to voicemail Lucian shut down the call and initiated another to the same place.
“He’s not answering his phone,” Lucian growled to himself after another prolonged wait for a pickup.
Nearly fifteen minutes had passed since Cristiãn’s exit from the club. The group in the main hall of the club had been too involved with their discussions to notice his absence. The discovery that Cristiãn had sneaked away from them suddenly made the subject of these talks a secondary concern. All minds there began to wonder what possible consequences could result from Cristiãn’s leaving.
“There’s nothing he can do at this point,” Radu spoke up in a soothing tone. “Razvan was long gone before he left.
“Then where did he go?” Lucian challenged back.
“Radu is right,” Eugen supported. “Without knowing where Razvan took her, there’s nothing he can do. He probably just wanted to get away so he could call Razvan.”
There were several murmurs of agreement with this from around the room. Lucian pondered this thinking for a moment, and then he turned to the group with a frown.
“Then why did he take the detective’s gun and cellphone?” Lucian queried with a point to the table where they were before.
All eyes looked to the table and saw that Cassidy’s gun, keys and cellphone were no longer in the room.
“What does he think he’s doing?”
“I think he may have gotten a text from Razvan,” Adrianna offered tentatively.
“When?” Lucian questioned with a quick look toward Adrianna and Sorin.
“He got a text about ten to fifteen minutes after they left,” Sorin reported. “He said it was nothing important.”
“Damn!” Lucian growled to himself.
Lucian scowled as he dialed out on his cellphone and then brought it to his ear. He began to pace a couple of steps in either direction as he waited for the call to connect or go to voicemail. By Lucian’s count the call was one ring away from forwarding to Cristiãn’s answering service when it suddenly picked up. Despite his surprise by the answer, Lucian spoke into the phone.
“Where are you?” Lucian queried angrily into his cellphone.
All eyes locked onto Lucian after he spoke these words. Several in the hall inched forward as they waited on him to respond to whatever Cristiãn was saying. A few seconds after making his query Lucian began to speak again.
“What are you doing, Cristiãn,” Lucian growled.
Once again Lucian went silent as he listened to what Cristiãn was saying. A few seconds into this he pulled the cellphone away from his ear and stared into the empty space in front of him with a wide-eyed stare.
“What did he say?” Stefan questioned with a look of insistence.
“He says things are going to change,” Lucian answered back as his mind continued to ponder the space in front of him.
“What’s going to change?” Eugen quickly queried.
“I don’t know. He didn’t say,” Lucian returned testily.
“That’s it? He didn’t say anything else?” Stefan pressured for more.
Lucian backed away from his reverie and gave Stefan a somber stare. A moment behind this he began to speak.
“He says we need to prepare to start hiding.”
Everyone in the room went quiet in reaction to this statement. Their minds were too busy assessing the possible effects this event would have on their lives.
“I think we need to get out of here,” Flavia spoke up with an intonation of worry.
“Flavia is right,” Sorin agreed. “If we’re about to be exposed, this is the last place we should be.”
There was a quick round of agreement from most there, and then they all began to move toward the front entrance.
“We regroup at the Greenwich house,” Lucian instructed as they moved toward the vestibule entrance.
The group took this information on the fly. None of them stopped to acknowledge the message. They hurried out the front entrance without any hesitation in their movements.
“Who are you calling?” Stefan asked from his seat behind the steering wheel of the car he was in.
Elisabeta and Lucian were in the back seat of the car that Stefan was driving. Helga was in the front passenger seat. They were twenty minutes out from The Cavern when Stefan asked this question.
“I’m calling Razvan,” Lucian answered grumpily. “If Cristiãn won’t tell me what’s happening, then maybe Razvan will.”
“What makes you think he knows what Cristiãn is planning?” Helga looked back to question.
“If he sent Cristiãn a text, then he must know something,” Elisabeta lectured back.
By this time, Lucian was counting the number of rings to Razvan’s cellphone. Immediately after the fourth ring, he heard the line connect.
“What are you doing, Razvan?” Lucian raged into his cellphone.
Lucian took a moment to listen to Razvan’s response to his query. His eyes went wide with astonishment in response to what he was hearing. Elisabeta, Helga and Stefan noted this change in his expression and became even more curious about what he was hearing. A few seconds later Lucian asked another question with a hint of desperation in his tone.
“What is he planning to do?”
Again, Lucian listened to Razvan’s response. This lasted for little more than a second, and then Lucian raged into his cellphone again.
“Damn you, Razvan. This is all your doing.”
Lucian went silent again. The reply he got this time took several seconds to finish.
“You don’t think I know that?” Lucian bellowed into the phone in response to what he heard.
Lucian listened again. He quickly showed irritation with what he was hearing. He voiced this feeling a few seconds later.
“I tried that. He’s not answering his phone, you-stupid-fool.”
Lucian huffed and shook his head as he waited on Razvan’s next words. Shortly into this he went still and briefly listened to what was being said for a couple of seconds.
“There’s nothing we can do but wait for Cristiãn to call back,” Lucian angrily spoke into his cellphone at the end of his wait.
He listened for a moment behind this statement, and then he began to speak again.
“We’re on our way to Greenwich,” Lucian expressed in the form of a reply to a question.
Two seconds after giving this report Lucian disconnected the call.
“Great, they’re on their way to Greenwich,” Lucian advised the others snidely.
“Does he know what Cristiãn is planning to do?” Stefan asked the instant Lucian finished speaking.
“Cristiãn has Tremaine,” Lucian reported in place of answering Stefan’s question.
Stefan, Helga and Elisabeta were clearly startled by this report. They all turned they eyes toward Lucian with expressions of shock on their faces. An instant after hearing this, Elisabeta blurted out the question that jumped into her thoughts.
“How did that happen?”
“I don’t know,” Lucian returned with a frown and a shake of his head.
“Did he say what Cristiãn was planning to do, or where he’s going?” Stefan queried as he glared at Lucian’s reflection in the rearview mirror.
“No. He doesn’t know anything,” Lucian returned from behind a demeanor that said his thoughts were elsewhere. “He’s just as much in the dark as we are.”
“Damn Cristiãn,” Elisabeta hissed out for all to hear.
“Do you think Cristiãn will really expose us?” Helga questioned with a look to Stefan.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he already has,” Stefan grumbled back while keeping his eyes on the road. “He’s always been too caring toward the mortals.”
Elisabeta looked to an intense Lucian to see if he agreed with this judgement. After several seconds, she took his silence for a yes and then turned her attention out the windows. Nothing more was said about anything until their car rolled into the driveway of a six-bedroom house thirty minutes later.
“It looks like everyone is here,” Stefan reported as he pulled into park behind four other cars in the turnabout driveway at the front of the house.
“Everyone but Razvan and Dumitra,” Helga corrected.
“Good,” Lucian returned with a nod of his head. “That gives us some time to talk without them.”
There was no argument with this thinking. The four of them climbed out of the car and started for the house within a few seconds of the engine shutting off. The house they were moving toward was unspectacular in appearance. It was a colonial design that looked to be at least thirty years of age. This did not make it an unattractive structure, but its size was its most appealing feature to most of the people that rented it in the recent past. Another thing that made the house attractive was the expanse of empty land around it. The closest neighboring house was roughly one-hundred yards away, and it was mostly obscured from view by an abundance of trees, shrubbery and hilly terrain.
Augustus opened the front door when Lucian, Elisabeta, Stefan and Helga reached the short walkway in front of it. The four of them trailed into the house one directly behind the other. They immediately turned toward the living-room after passing over the threshold. The four of them expected the other twelve to be there.
“Have you heard anything?” Eugen questioned as Lucian and Elisabeta walked into the room.
“Cristiãn has Detective Tremaine,” Lucian reported solemnly after noting all were present.
Nadja and Petru looked to each other with surprise when they heard this. Several others in the room also took on surprised looks.
“How did this happen?” Eugen quickly questioned with the intonation of disbelief in his voice.
“That’s one of the things I’m going to ask Razvan and Dumitra when they get here,” Lucian mumbled out as he led Elisabeta to a vacant chair.
“They’re coming here?” Alina, the mate of Eugen, queried with an inflection of surprise.
“They have to,” Stefan grumbled out as a response more than a reply. “They don’t know where Cristiãn is. We’re all in the same boat.”
“So, what do we do now?” Radu asked with a look toward Lucian.
“The only thing we can do,” Lucian answered with a slight shake of his head. “We wait.”
No one disputed this plan to do nothing. Everyone understood that the lives they had made for themselves in this time were on hold indefinitely. They were all expecting another call from Cristiãn. His first call was taken as a warning to them that he was going to do something. They were all expecting another call with the details on what that something was.
Despite this betrayal no one there expected Cristiãn to divulge their location at this moment. The first call was interpreted as a warning for them to be on their guard. They all knew that if he wanted to do them harm he would not have told them this. They also knew that he would have called Nadja and told her not to be there with them. Because of this, it was collectively believed that Cristiãn’s only goal was to protect Cassidy and that the exposure of their existence was a necessary act to create that outcome.
The house they were in was a vacation rental home. Ten of the vampires from out of the area were staying there. Nadja and Petru were spending their visit to New York in Cristiãn’s apartment. They went to the Greenwich rental home for the same reason that Sorin, Adrianna, Radu and Flavia were there. This was considered the safest place for them to be, and they all wanted to be present when Cristiãn called.
For nearly an hour the sixteen vampires spoke of nothing of consequence. They mostly waited in silence for a new phone call or a new arrival. At the end of this time the latter came to pass. Razvan and Dumitra’s car turned into the driveway and parked. The two rogue vampires jumped out of the car and hurried toward the house an instant after that. What was left of their clothing was in tatters. Dumitra was wearing a blue auto mechanic’s work shirt in place of her blouse, and Razvan abandoned his suitcoat altogether. But their clothing was the only part of them that exhibited evidence of the fires that tried to consume them. All the burn scars to their heads, arms and torsos were gone.
The sound of Razvan and Dumitra’s car alerted everyone inside that they were coming. Augustus opened the front door for them. They raced past him and went straight into the living-room. Everyone there paused to take notice of their attire. Razvan began to speak at the instant his feet came to a stop.
“Has he called?”
Razvan’s sudden query diverted the attentions of the others away from their attire.
“What happened?” Lucian grumbled back at him.
“He got away, and he took that cop with him.”
“Why did you send for my brother?” Nadja challenged forcefully.
“I wanted to smooth things over with him,” Razvan answered defensively.
“You mean you wanted to kill him,” Petru argued back.
“We wanted him to join us,” Dumitra insisted with a hint of desperation. “We would never hurt Cristiãn if we could avoid it.”
“Is this true?” Lucian bellowed at Razvan from behind a menacing stare. “Did you use Tremaine as bait?”
Razvan took a moment to return glares, one after the other, that he was getting from Lucian, Petru and Nadja. In the end, he fixed his stare on Lucian and responded to his question with a defiant one word reply.
“Damn you, Razvan,” Elisabeta loudly scolded. “You did this.”
“Cristiãn was a threat, and not just to me—to all of us,” Razvan insisted angrily. “He’s in love with that mortal. He was never going to forgive us.”
A furious Nadja took a step in Razvan’s direction, but Petru checked her advance with a tug on her arm. Lucian took an instant to note that Nadja was stopped, and then he turned his attention back to Razvan.
“Cristiãn gave us his word that he would not come after you,” Lucian growled out with an intonation of annoyance.
“He lied!” Razvan countered with ferocity. “If Cristiãn had any intention of putting this behind him then he would not have responded to my summons.”
“She was still alive!” Nadja yelled out in fury. “Cristiãn was always going to act if there was a chance to save her life.”
“You put this into motion when you dangled her in front of Cristiãn,” Elisabeta supported sternly.
“You’re deluding yourselves,” Razvan disputed with defiance. “Cristiãn was always going to come after us. Anything he promised you was a lie to convince you he was not a threat.”
There was no quick response. Everyone there had entertained that thought. And in the end, no one chose to dispute it.
“Well that threat is probably exposing all of us right now,” Helga professed softly.
“We have to call and stop him,” Dumitra yelled out.
“He’s not answering his phone,” Elisabeta advised with a curt response.
“So, what are we doing?” Razvan grumbled at everyone in the room.
“We’re waiting,” Radu answered in a surly tone of voice.
Razvan was not pleased with that answer. He feared that Cristiãn was going to be an extreme disruption to his plans. He thought this because exposure now would put the mortals on their guard far too soon for his plans. He anticipated that this would make it difficult for him to infiltrate the halls of power within the mortal world. He also feared that the other vampires would no longer feel the need to keep him alive.
Because of this disruption to his plans, Razvan was desperate to find and stop Cristiãn. However, the weight of this concern had no effect on the reality of the situation. He had no idea where Cristiãn was or where he was going. This fact made waiting the only option available to him. Subsequently he and Dumitra settled uncomfortably in among the group and waited.
All fourteen vampires found an isolated or semi isolated spot in the house to wait. Lucian and Elisabeta, Stefan and Helga, Augustus and Iona, Eugen and Alina and Laurentius and Roxana went to their respective rooms to wait. The others went to distant locations on the first floor of the house and waited.
No one in the house had a fixed time limit on how long they should wait for Cristiãn to contact them. It was never discussed. They all believed he would communicate something to them as soon as he could. And they all shared the fear that silence from him was a bad thing. This thinking was supported by the idea that the only event that could or would stop him from communicating with them was the act of surrendering himself to the mortal authorities. If he did this, they all knew that an army of investigators would soon be rummaging through his life and associations, and that this would put them all at risk. This worry grew in intensity with each passing minute.
Two hours after Razvan and Dumitra’s arrival, the house was as still and quiet as it would have been if no one was in it. All eighteen vampires were sitting or lying in silence as they waited on something to happen. None of them dared to fall deeply into sleep. If they did any disturbance that occurred would not quickly register in their brains. It was seven minutes past 2 o’clock in the afternoon when the distant sound of a car moving through the vicinity entered the awareness of everyone there. It was not the first car to pass through the area. Over the past two hours, a dozen cars had traveled down the narrow two lane roadway that existed just beyond the expanse of grounds around the house. These vehicles were subconsciously noted by everyone inside and dismissed as they passed by. Initially, this latest car was given the same amount of passive attention as the others. There was nothing about their presence or movement that gave them any reason to be interested in it. They were not expecting anyone, least of all Cristiãn. It was understood by all that he had signed his death warrant. Even if he did not expose them to mortals, freeing Detective Tremaine went against their decision to terminate her existence.
Radu’s sudden shout came an instant after the house’s entire compliment of vampires jumped up with a start. Their superior hearing came to focus onto the sound of a car turning up the driveway to the house. They all took a moment to verify that this was happening, and then they hurried into the living-room. Radu and Flavia were already there looking out the large bay window. Lucian, Elisabeta, Stefan. Helga, Nadja and Petru joined them at the parlor bay window. The others hurried to windows in the foyer and the study. They all watched as the car came to a park, and then they all waited to see who would get out.