Chapter 1: The Surprise
I cried for I didn’t think it could be true,
That you and I may have always known one another,
And could not only evoke, but conjure a place of our own.
--Fellow Feeling, Porter Robinson
I always knew that I was adopted by my parents, brought over from Europe, Austria to be exact. Besides that fact though, I had never really known much about my past, they had adopted me as a baby when both of my biological parents had died without any other relatives to take me in. So needless to say, I was a little surprised when one late summer afternoon a boy from Romania showed up on our doorstep.
“Hello,” the boy said. Oh man, that accent. “My name is Daniel Florescu, and you must be Luminita.” He said. Lumi-who? “May I come in?” He asked, although he just pushed past me and into the kitchen before I could even protest. “What a quaint little place this is.” I looked at him quizzically as he strode around our kitchen. Who was this kid? And why the heck was he here? I’d never heard my parents mention him before. Did they take in an exchange student without telling me or something?
“So this is where you’ve been living I see. Such a small house for someone of your stature,” Daniel said. His dark blue eyes locked with my hazel eyes. I quickly assessed him as my father had taught me before. My dad was a police officer in our small Virginia town near the James River. When I started high school he taught me how to read people, men in particular, to determine if they were a threat to me or not. Daniel didn’t look like he wanted to hurt me; he stood relaxed leaning against the counter. If anything, he looked tired. There were light shadows under his eyes and his jaw length black hair was messy and unkempt. I narrowed my eyes at him and took another step away from him.
“Who are you?” I finally asked him. Daniel gave me a confused look.
“I am Daniel Florescu, as I have already said.”
“Yes,” I said slowly. “But that doesn’t mean that I know who you are. So if you could kindly leave that would be great.” I said stepping towards him and opening the door. Daniel gave me a startled look but stood where he was. “C’mon, let’s go,” I prodded.
“Americans,” Daniel scoffed. “How can you not know who I am? Didn’t your parents tell you about me?” He crossed his arms across his chest in a refusal to leave. I glared at him while continuing to hold open the door.
“No, they didn’t; and if they didn’t, they must have had a reason not to.” I said getting annoyed. This Daniel person was obviously not getting the hint. “So please leave before I call the police, which is where my father works by the way.” I said. Daniel rolled his eyes but slowly made his way over to the door.
“I will leave, but we still have much to discuss.” He said. “I’m staying in the abandoned house over on Oak Street. I have also enrolled in the local high school, so I’ll be seeing you around.” Daniel said. With a flourish of his jacket he turned and strode through the door.
“The abandoned house on Oak Street?” I said to myself. “Does he mean the mansion of old man Riker?” Mr. Riker was a wealthy business man who had a large estate built back in the early 1900’s just outside of town. After he died though, he didn’t have any family to sell the house or take it over so it just fell into disrepair. No one had lived there since 1934; the place was a total wreck. “Why would he stay there..?”
I pushed the thoughts of Daniel Florescu from my mind until my parents got home from work. I made no mention of him until we were sitting around the table eating dinner.
“Did you have a good day, Elisabeth?” Mom asked. My mom was a scientist that did a lot of research at the nearby Hog Island Refuge. She was studying plant diseases and how to prevent them. Have to protect those wetlands ya know.
“It was pretty good.” I said absently stirring my potatoes around. “This strange boy stopped by earlier though.” I said and then looked up at them.
“A strange boy?” Dad asked. I nodded.
“Yeah. His name was Daniel Florescu or something like that. And when he greeted me he called me Luminita.” My parents gave each other a look. “What?” I asked.
“Well, you already know you’re adopted, but we never told you the whole story,” Mom began slowly. “It’s true that we adopted you from an agency in Austria, but you were actually born in Romania.”
“In a town near the Carpathian Mountains.” Dad added.
“Um, what? Why am I just hearing all of this for the first time?” I asked with disbelief. I thought I had known the whole story, obviously not.
“We didn’t know how to bring it up.” Dad said. “Anyway, you actually come from a wealthy family in Romania. When you were a baby the house caught on fire. Both of your biological parents died in the fire, but one of the house maids managed to save you and escape.” He said.
“The maid was from Austria so she went back to her home country with you in tow. Once there she started looking for a good home for you. She was already very old and wasn’t in any shape to keep caring for you.” Mom said. “That just so happened to be when your father and I were travelling through Europe, we met her one day and fell in love with you. We filled out a lot of paperwork and somehow managed to convince the government to let us bring you home.” She said.
“We named you Elisabeth after the maid that saved you from the house.” Dad said.
“Okay…” I said taking everything in. “So where does Daniel play into this?” I asked.
“We’re not entirely sure. When we looked into the fire your parents died in, we saw the name Florescu in the report. The authorities in Romania believe that his family set the fire.” Dad said. “That name is also associated with vampires too.” He mumbled.
“I’m sorry, what?” I asked. Had they lost their minds? “Did you say vampires?” Mom nodded slowly.
“I know that it sounds crazy,” she started.
“You’re damn straight that it sounds crazy.” I interjected.
“Hey, watch the language,” Dad said sternly. “Just, try to keep your distance if you see him again, okay?” I nodded. “Good,”
“He did say that we was going to enroll in my high school for the year.” I said.
“Where is he staying?” Mom asked. “Is he posing as an exchange student?”
“I didn’t ask; I can only assume though.” I said. I took a bite of my chicken signaling that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. My parents took the hint and continued eating their dinner as well. After a few more minutes of menial chat we all finished eating, I did the dishes then retreated to my room. I dove onto my bed and grabbed my laptop from the floor, switched it on and logged onto IM.
*Elisabest is online*
*Gigi1340 is online*
Elisabest: Dude, I have some crazy stuff to lay on you.
Gigi1340: Okay, go
Elisabest: So this weird guy came to my house today, some Romanian guy. Idk what he wants but he called me Luminita. I told my parents about it and it turns out that I’m from Romania too! Some maid saved me from a burning house and took me to Austria. How crazy is this?!
Gigi1340: What. The. Hell. Your parents never told you this until tonight?
Gigi1340: What kind of stuff was this guy saying?
Elisabest: Nothing much. His name is Daniel Florescu. He barged in and was all, “What a quaint little hovel you live in. There are some things we must discuss.” Something like that.
Elisabest: Totes. And get this; he’s living in old man Riker’s house on Oak Street.
Gigi1340: Weird and creepy. There are a lot of warning bells going off in my head right now; I think you should stay away from him.
Elisabest: That may be easier said than done. He said he’s going to go to our school this year.
Gigi1340: That is unfortunate. Don’t worry girl, I’ve got your back. If he comes at you with all of this freaky shit, I’ll roundhouse him.
Elisabest: Lol, this is why you’re my best friend.
Gigi1340: Damn straight! Well I’ve got to go to band practice. I’ll see you Monday.
Elisabest: Band geek. Have fun at camp, see ya.
*Gigi1340 is offline*
*Elisabest is offline*
Daniel didn’t come around at all the next couple of days, and by then it was the first day of school. Needless to say I was a little worried about it. At least there would be plenty of people around.