Chapter 7: Curiosity Killed the Cat
The outside of the Oak Street house looked as it had when I had been there last. Except now there were leaves all over the place from the towering live oak tree in the front yard. The house felt colder somehow as well, like it had had some life in it when Daniel was there, now it was just an empty shell.
“Shall we?” Gigi gestured up to the house. We all walked up the rickety steps onto the front porch. We were a little surprised to find that the door was unlocked. Gigi had come prepared to jimmy the door open with bobby pins. I think she was disappointed that she didn’t get to do that.
“Wow,” Todd breathed. “It looks nicer than I thought it would.” He turned his head from side to side taking in the main room in front of us.
“Daniel started to fix the place up,” I said. “Only the main floor though, he said he hadn’t touched the upstairs yet.” Being here again made me feel weird. My stomach was in nervous knots; I kept expecting Daniel to come around the corner or something. “What exactly are we looking for Gigi?” I asked her trying to calm my nerves.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I just wanted to make sure he was gone.” Gigi wandered over towards the piano like she had that first time here. “Everything sure is dusty now,” I walked slowly towards the kitchen, that was the only part of the house I really wanted to see. Todd was close behind me as I came to stop in front of the refrigerator. I reached out to the door tentatively and then swung it open hard; so hard that it bounced back and shut itself.
“You okay?” Todd asked me. I glared at the fridge and opened the door a little slower this time as I came face to face with…nothing. The refrigerator was totally empty, save for a bottle of orange soda.
“Uh, yeah, I’m fine.” I stammered out a reply. “It’s just,” I started. I glanced back at Todd, looking to him for support. “The last time I was here Daniel opened this and it was full of bags of blood. That’s when he drank it and I got out of here as fast as I could.” I whispered. I looked to Todd again to find his green eyes boring into me. He reached his hand out to me and pulled me away from the fridge towards him.
“It’s okay, there’s nothing there now. Daniel isn’t here anymore; you shouldn’t be afraid.” Todd said. He held my hand in his and led me away out of the kitchen back to Gigi.
“Did you guys find anything?” She asked. I shook my head no and walked over to the couch. I plopped down and kicked my feet up on the coffee table in front of it. “Oh!” Gigi exclaimed. “Move your feet, there’s something under there.” Gigi pulled a couple of pieces of paper out from under my heels. “They’re photos,” She said. “Is this your mom? Like, your biological one I mean,” Gigi asked me showing me the photo. It was the picture Daniel had showed me a couple of weeks ago, the one with my mother holding me as a baby.
“Yeah,” I said. “Daniel showed that one to me.”
“She looks so much like you, Elisabeth,” Todd breathed. “Where did he get those pictures from?”
“He brought them from Romania, that’s where I was born.” I said. “Apparently he and I were betrothed as babies so he was able to get those from my family. We were supposed to rule over the vampires there or something,” I said, then stopped. It took me a second, but then I realized that I had told Todd that I was a vampire too. “Um, at least that’s what Daniel told me. I don’t really believe I’m a vampire or anything like that.” I said quickly. Wow, real smooth Elisabeth. Todd gave me a strange look but didn’t say anything, thank God.
“Well of course you’re not,” Gigi slapped me on my back. “I mean, look at your teeth, they’re normal. And you don’t crave blood, at least not that I know of. You go out in the sun every day. How could you possibly be a vampire?”
“I guess you’re right,” I said. “But then again, Daniel went out in the day when he was here, and I never saw him with fangs. Although his canines were a little sharper than normal.” I continued. “I don’t know, it doesn’t matter anyway, he’s gone now.” I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Can we get out of here now?” I looked up to Gigi.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Gigi said. Todd held his hand out to me and helped me to my feet. He continued to hold onto my hand as we left the house and it fell behind us.
And so October and November passed by uneventfully. Everything really was back to normal, no word from Daniel at all. Gigi and I were back to being best friends while she and Kevin continued to make out at the lunch table every day. As for Todd and I, it seemed like we were stuck in a relationship limbo. Or something like that. I was starting to like him, and I thought he was starting to like me too. Sometimes our hands would brush, or he would hold onto to it a few seconds too long when helping me up from a seat. And really, I was okay with this. Todd was so much…easier than Daniel. Todd got me, and I got him.
Soon it was December and Christmas was right around the corner. Gigi was having a party that of course Todd and I were going to. I was trying to work up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to go on a date with me, but I was having trouble doing it.
“Just do it! He obviously likes you,” Gigi said. “He’s always watching you when you’re not looking, and don’t get me started on all of that awkward flirting.” Gigi grinned at me and waggled her eyebrows. “You just have to go for it.” I shrugged and found Todd standing across the room from where Gigi and I were sitting on her couch, he looked bored. Dance music was pouring from the speakers in her basement as a bunch of band kids and track teammates awkwardly danced. Her Mom was out of town for the weekend; what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
“And I’ll tell you what, to make it easy for you, there’s some mistletoe hanging above the landing of the stairs. Just go stand there and he’ll come to you. You can be all, ‘Oh Todd, I think we’re standing under some mistletoe, I guess we have to kiss now; pucker up buttercup,’” Gigi quoted.
“You are the worst,” I playfully pushed her away from me. “But also so right at the same time. You’re right, I’m just going to go for it.” I said working up the courage. I stood from the couch and made my way over to Todd.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey, I’m going to go upstairs and get some fresh air, would you like to join me?” I asked him. Todd nodded and followed me up the steps and out onto Gigi’s back porch. “Are you enjoying the party?” I asked. Todd shrugged. “Not your cup of tea?”
“Not really, I don’t normally go to parties like this. I’m more of a read at home kind of guy.” Todd said. “But for you, I figured I would brave the loud music and grinding teenagers.” He smirked at me then looked away before I could catch him blushing. He was too slow though; I saw that red in his cheeks.
We stood on the back porch in silence for a few minutes, nothing but the sound of our breathing. It was getting pretty chilly outside, we could see our breath as well, like dragons that could breathe condensation instead of fire.
“Um, are you cold?” Todd asked. “We can go back inside if you want.” I shook my head no. Alright, here we go. Instead, I closed the distance between Todd and I, huddling up against him. He pulled his hands away from me at first, but then he too pulled me up against him with his arm around my shoulder. He didn’t say anything, but I could see him holding back a smile on his bright red face.
“This is good, I’m comfortable now,” I said with satisfaction. I rested my head against his chest and we were once again silent for a few minutes.
“Elisabeth,” Todd said softly. “I, um, I really like you,” he stumbled. “I have for a while but I didn’t say anything because I was afraid. I was afraid you didn’t feel the same way and I didn’t want to ruin the friendship we had developed.”
“I felt the same way, Todd. Gigi kept pushing me to tell you how I felt, but I wasn’t sure either. I figured tonight was as good of a night as any.” Todd smiled down at me and pulled me in even tighter against him. “I’m glad you feel the same way I do,” I said softly. I looked up to his face and for the first time I realized just how much shorter than him I was. Probably not what you thought I was going to say huh?
“Me too,” Todd said with a smile. Todd and I stood out on the back porch cuddling up next to each other for the next five minutes or so. We stayed outside until we really did start to get cold. Todd held my hand as we entered the party once more going down the steps. I looked up and spotted the mistletoe that Gigi had mentioned earlier, with a smirk on my face, I “tripped” down the last few stairs.
“Whoa, watch your step,” Todd caught me in his arms and pulled me to my feet. “Are you okay?” He asked. I looked up towards him and spied the mistletoe just behind his head. He must have seen the mischievous smile spread across my face because he asked, “What? What are you looking at?” I pointed to the plant hanging above his head.
“We’re standing under mistletoe Todd,” I said smiling. “You know what that means don’t you?” His eyes widened a little bit.
“Uh, um, yes I do, but…” He was stuttering again; it must be a nervous tick. “But I’ve, I’ve never kissed a girl before…” Todd whispered. Wait, what? I could have sworn he had had a girlfriend last year.
“But didn’t you date that Leah girl last year?” I asked with confusion.
“Yeah I did, but we never kissed. We had only been together for, like, two weeks when we broke up.” Really? I thought it had been longer than that, strange. Todd was looking down at his feet, his face beet red again, God he was cute.
“Oh, well, we don’t have to if you don’t want—“ Todd cut me off by pressing his lips against mine. Oh goodness. His lips were so soft and warm I could do this forever. One of Todd’s hands made its way to my face as he cupped my cheek and my arms went around his waist. This is perfect. I sighed.
Are you sure it’s perfect Luminita? For some reason Daniel’s voice rang out in my head as Todd and I continued to kiss deeply. Why was this happening? I hadn’t even thought about Daniel in weeks.
Todd pulled away from me slowly with his eyes still closed as mine fluttered open.
“Wow,” he breathed. I nodded in agreement with a smile. “So that’s what I’ve been missing all this time, I never would have known.” He said with a small laugh. He stared down at me for a moment and blushed once more, then leaned down and kissed me again, softer this time. We smiled at each other for a brief second before rejoining the party.
Gigi1340: *squeal* I saw you and Todd kissing! It’s about time!
Elisabest: Oh shush.
Gigi1340: What? Aren’t you excited? You’ve liked him for a while now. I for one and am glad to see it finally happening.
Elisabest: Of course I’m happy. :P He’s so cute and awkward all the time though. I love it when he blushes.
Gigi1340: I feel the same way about Kev. He doesn’t do it so much anymore, but when he does I just want to kiss his face off.
Elisabest: Oh, Gigi, you are a nut.
Gigi1340: Yeah, well I’m a tired nut, and I still have to clean up, thanks for ditching me btw. :P
Elisabest: Sorry! I promised Mom and Dad I would come home tonight. We’ll hang out later yeah? I can come over and help you clean before your parents get home.
Gigi1340: I expect nothing less. Goodnight.
That night I dreamt that I was sitting on the couch in Riker’s house. Well, I guess it was sort of like a dream within a dream. Because in my dream I woke up on the couch, like I had been sleeping there all along.
I sat up on the couch and looked around, it was early morning outside and the sun was just beginning to rise; there was snow falling outside. There weren’t any lights on inside of the house and I felt very alone. I stood up slowly and meandered into the kitchen. It was empty just like the living room. However, when I opened the fridge door there was blood in it once more, not as much as the first time, but it was still there. I cringed away from the fridge and let the door close behind me leaving the kitchen.
This is weird. I thought. Why am I in the Oak Street house? Back out in the living room it was still empty. Why is there blood in the fridge when this place looks dead? There’s dust everywhere, no one has been here for months. I came to stop at the bottom of the stairs. I’ve never been up here, maybe I’ll check it out.
I walked up the steps slowly, having mini heart attacks every time the stairs creaked beneath my feet. When I reached the top there was a hallway leading to multiple rooms, it was now obvious that Daniel had never touched the upstairs. Walking down the hallway there were cobwebs in every corner and all of the paint and wallpaper had yellowed with time, this is what an abandoned mansion is supposed to look like. The upstairs felt especially cold and empty, except for the last room at the end of the hall.
The walls in here had been painted a deep burgundy and the floors were restored. There was a lone candle in the corner of the room putting off just enough light, it had pretty much glued itself to the table it was on from being lit so often. Next to the table was a comfortable looking bed. I stepped over to it quietly but then stopped a few feet away from it. Someone was in this bed, breathing deeply in sleep.
My skin prickled as I reached out tentatively to pull the covers back from their face. My eyes widened and I swiftly but quietly rushed downstairs and out of the house. He was back.