From her tiny office on the eighth floor Naomi could see the river below, dark and serene in the night. It looked like a solid sheet of silk rather than a moving stream; as it was so late only few lights were reflected in the water. How could there be something as calm and beautiful so close to all this horror?
She felt like she was going mad with fear and pain. When she had come to again, she had been in a car with Buyden, who was demanding Clark’s home address in exchange for Paul being let go. She thought she was taking her last breath when he didn’t believe her that she didn’t know. She had turned over her handbag so he could check there was no address for Clark in there. It had taken her a while to convince him that she could find the address in her office where she’d left the rest of her luggage before setting out for the funeral.
By the time they’d reached the college Buyden had seemed absolutely frantic, for which she had no explanation at all, and she found herself trying to calm him down with no success whatsoever.
When they came to the door, she fumbled for her key, but found that with her injured hand, she could not manage that fast enough for Buyden’s impatience, so she was relieved when a night watchman opened from inside.
He knew her. “Did you forget something in your office tonight, Dr Downey?” he asked helpfully.
At Buyden’s prodding she nodded, and he let them inside, leading them to the lift unsuspectingly. Buyden had taken him from behind, and Naomi tried not to remember the sounds that had followed. She had tried to run and hide, but when she couldn’t open the main door, she had found her escape blocked. She raced up the stairs to the SCR to hide or call for help, but found she was not quick enough. Her captor had simply taken hold of her and pushed her into the direction of her office. Once there, he’d made her phone Clark and beg him come and give her the envelope.
Clark had sounded worried: “Are you sure you’re ok? There’s help on the way, don’t panic.”
“Thomas, please don’t do anything stupid, they’ve still got Paul, and I really have to get those papers to them in a hurry.” She was begging. She held no hope for those people treating Paul well after what they had already done to her.
After the murder of the watchman she didn’t have much hope for Clark’s survival either. She felt like a murderess, but Buyden’s cold breath down her neck was a very convincing motivation. At least, Clark hadn’t sounded too surprised, so maybe Paul was right in trusting him. She briefly wondered what help he could be talking about and how Paul had come to trust him. How that would save anyone though she did not know. Maybe Paul was already dead, too.
That last thought made her incredibly angry, and she turned to face Buyden: “What are you waiting for? Why don’t you just kill me right here and be done with it? That’s all you’re interested in anyway, so why keep up the rigmarole about the papers?”
“Job first, fun later.” He smiled at her. Suddenly he was right next to her and ran his cold fingers along her collarbone. Her heart missed a beat. Buyden smiled at that, and Naomi remembered that Marcus seemed to be able to hear very well. That disgusting creature was taking pleasure from her fear and was planning to have fun with her later. With desperate energy she grabbed her silver letter opener with her left hand and plunged it into Buyden’s chest. Contrary to her expectation it went in. Buyden screamed and looked at her makeshift weapon in surprise. She held her breath. What would happen now?
Buyden frowned, then took hold of the little dagger and pulled it out again. Dark blood pooled sluggishly around the wound and stopped.
He smiled at her. “You want to play, little one? Fine by me, as soon as this business is finished, I’ll give you my full attention.”
Her knees buckled, and she had to sit down. So her death would take longer than that of the unfortunate watchman downstairs, and it wasn’t only her blood he was interested in. A look at Buyden’s cold hard eyes told her pleading made no sense. The next minute he wasn’t directly looking at her, she raced for the door only to find it blocked by the vampire at once. He raised an amused eyebrow at her and came towards her. She swallowed and went back to her chair. He sat down on her desk, fixing his eyes on her.
After a while, she couldn’t bear that anymore. She got up again and turned to look out the window. What did one do before certain death? She tried to think of good memories, something to take her mind off Buyden and his plans, but found her panic was too huge for that.
In the empty building the sound of the lift arriving on the seventh floor could be heard, then steps on the stairs. “Naomi? Did you have to stay up here? I could have given you that stuff downstairs, you know?” Clark’s voice, sounding confident. Then the sound of his steps stopped, and Naomi thought she saw a smile cross Buyden’s face.
Suddenly the door was kicked open, and Clark yelled at her to get down. Naomi dived under her desk at that, but Clark’s shots echoed emptily around the room.
Marcus skidded to a halt at the bank of lifts, his eyes darting up and down the list of faculties and offices. Paul caught up with him there, panting “Seven, then stairs.”
Then he saw something out of the corner of his eye and pointed to a half opened elevator door. Marcus followed his eyes and said “Not Naomi,“ wanting to continue. Paul still went to look and found the watchmen, drained and dead, his throat ripped open. He called for an ambulance anyway, even though Marcus was shaking his head. “No use anymore.” After that, he dashed for the staircase and started running up the stairs at high speed. Paul decided to go for the lift, which arrived at that moment. He suspected that one couldn’t sneak up on a vampire in any case.
Before Paul reached the eighth floor, he heard shots. He doubled his speed and walked in on a standoff in the hallway. Buyden had Naomi with him, and Marcus was confronting him, about to attack. Clark was looking from one to the other puzzled, his gun drawn.
“Well, well, Marcus Trevelyan-Carter, Philippe’s white African, why are you in all of this? Because of her?” Buyden was asking Marcus in a sarcastic voice.
“Let go of her, this is over,“ Marcus’s tone was final. “Take me on if you’re spoiling for a fight.”
“No, Marcus,“ Naomi pleaded, not wanting anyone else to get hurt. Marcus turned away from her anguished tone, a fact that Buyden watched smiling. Then he bent down and placed a cold kiss on Naomi’s lips. She struggled, disgusted and remembering the watchman downstairs. Marcus snarled.
Buyden snickered at that. “Not so cool all the time then. I would never have thought you were one of those who’d hang their heart on a human.”
Clark was looking from one to the other in growing confusion.
“Your way out of here goes past me. Let her go!” Marcus hissed and crouched ready to attack.
“You know, I’m not sure that I haven’t thought of a better way out,“ Buyden said calculatingly, changing his hold of Naomi.
“What, scared?” Buyden was taunting Marcus. “Who would have thought you were vulnerable after all!”
“Do something!” Paul pleaded.
“I just tried”, Clark seemed completely lost. “It didn’t work.”
“I can’t,“ Marcus answered desperately. “If I move he’ll snap her neck.”
“Then just maybe, I’ll have to solve the problême, n’est-ce pas?” Philippe casually strolled in, playing with a silver lighter. “Nils Buyden, aren’t you rather far from Africa? All by yourself?”
“Philippe!” Buyden’s face lost all its confidence. He looked like a trapped rat, horrified. Suddenly a vicious gleam came into his eyes, and he picked up Naomi and threw her in Philippe’s direction, then he tried to run. Philippe ducked in time, and Naomi crashed into the door behind him. Buyden didn’t get past Marcus who flattened him to the wall with one hand. Paul had never seen such hatred in anyone’s face. Philippe was with him in a second and took hold of the other vampire, too. He was about to drag Buyden away, when he noticed Marcus was not with him any longer. “What now…?”
Paul followed Philippe’s eyes to Naomi and saw Marcus was already bent down to her: “Naomi, please, no!” He was pleading in a voice almost as dead as before.
Philippe sounded desperate. “No, Marcus, that’s what he wants! Come with me!” Then he made a choked noise and disappeared with a frantically struggling Buyden in tow.
Before Paul could approach, Marcus tensed too, and shortly after Paul realised why in shock: Buyden had thrown Naomi into a glass door, the bottom half of which had cracked. He could see a small puddle of blood forming around her head from the cuts on her scalp.