About a half-hour later, I was back in my office, catching up on some paperwork at my desk, when there was another knock on my door.
I called out, "Come in!"
A guy entered my office. He was in his forties. He wore a rumpled, unbuttoned, light brown raincoat, and held an unlit cigar in his mouth.
"Good evening Miss Milford." He said, "My name's Lieutenant Preston. I'm with the Police."
I said, "Good evening Lieutenant."
"I have to ask you a few questions, about the unfortunate vampire killing of a Miss Kate Nellington that took place outside of here last night."
I said, "Please be seated Lieutenant."
He sat beside the desk, in a chair to my left, and put the cigar in an ashtray. Then he took out a writing pad and a pen.
I told him, "I'm sorry I can't help you Lieutenant, but I wasn't here last night. I was away for three days, and I didn't return until about an hour ago. That was the first time I heard about Kate."
He started scribbling notes in the pad.
He said, "Now that's what I have to clear up Miss Milford. Excuse me, but where were you, and what were you doing, these past three days?"
I looked straight at him and said, "I was in Mexico Lieutenant. I was with a guy, having a fling."
He scribbled again.
"A fling in Mexico?"
"That's right. We were in Puerto Vallarta. We stayed at the Hotel Playa Los Arcos. We did not sign our real names."
He scribbled something every time I spoke.
"What was his real name?"
“He said I should call him Jake. I’m not sure about his last name."
"Jake? Excuse me Miss Milford, but a vampire named Jake is suspected in the killing of Miss Nellington."
"We'll he obviously couldn't have been the guy I was with, could he?"
The Lieutenant said, "The one we're interested in, was in here before, and you were seen talking to him."
"He's the one who was with me in Mexico. I had sexual relations with him; and from what I’ve heard, when a male vampire becomes sexually aroused, his fangs become extended along with his...
"That's' what I've heard too."
"So if he'd been a vampire, I wouldn't have got up from that bed alive;" I chuckled, "but what a way to go."
He said, "This is all very interesting Miss Milford; but do you have any idea where I can contact this Jake, so I can verify your story?"
"Yes Lieutenant. He said he works at Vidamort Corp Headquarters."
"Vidamort Corp? Very well Miss Milford. Thank you for your help."
He put the writing pad and pen back in his pocket.
"Always glad to help L.A.'s finest."
Lieutenant Preston picked up his cigar from the ashtray. He stood up, and headed to the door. Then he halted, and turned around.
"Oh by the way Miss Milford. Just one more thing, before I forget. You said that when you checked into this Hotel Playa Los Arcos, you didn't use your real names. What names did you use?"
"I said my name was Kate Nellington. He gave his name as James Manetti. That was supposed to be a harmless joke. Ironic isn't it?"
"Yes." the detective nodded. "Tragically ironic."
Then he was gone.
Around midnight, the Club was as crowded as you'd expect, on a Friday night. Harry was in the D/J Booth, playing the usual music. He'd hardly said a word over the P.A. Julianna was beside him. She was the one trying to cheer everybody up, doing most of the spiel that night herself. Kevin Delinski and Pete Reynolds were at a table. Neither of them had much to say either.
I didn't know if any undercover cops were in the Club that night; but the bookies and the dealers had enough sense not show up.
Harry, Juliana, Kevin and Pete had each asked me where I'd been the last three days. I told them the same thing I'd told the Lieutenant. "I was in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, getting laid. Just a fling. Getting my rocks off."
They didn't ask me anything further.
I was seated alone at a cocktail table, when I saw Jimmy Manetti approaching me through the crowd. Pete’s sister Caroline Reynolds was with him. The two of them came over to me. I stood up.
"Oh Jim!" I sobbed, "This is so awful!"
I hugged Jimmy, making sobbing sounds. Then I felt my fangs becoming extended. I let go of him quick, retracting my fangs, before anyone in the dimly lit Club noticed.
Now Pete and Kevin were beside us. They greeted the other two.
Pete said, "I didn't think you'd get here this soon."
Jim said, "What do you mean 'this soon'? We've been driving ever since Caroline told me about your e-mail."
"Driving?" Kevin said, "From London?"
"No Kevin." Caroline spoke with annoyance. "We weren't still in London. We were in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta."
Pete and Kevin both looked at me.
I said, "You were there too? So was I. What Hotel did you stay at?"
She said, "Hotel Playa Los Arcos."
I said, "I was at the Garza Blanca." That's about five miles south of the Playa Los Arcos. "I was with a guy."
Pete told me, "You don't have to say more Val."
We spent the next hour or so catching up; engaging in small talk. Harry and Juliana joined us. Everyone was reluctant to say anything about Kate.
Harry informed Jimmy and Caroline, "Kate’s parents are taking care of the funeral arrangements."
We said no more about it that night.
Around 1:30 everyone decided that it was time to go. I was wide-awake. I told them I had to stay 'til closing.
Pete said, "Then we'll see you at home, Vick."
Then I spoke, "Before you go Jimmy, there are some things about the business that I have to discuss with you. There are some people who we'll have to meet with here, tomorrow night."
He said, "Can't you postpone it 'til after the funeral Victoria?"
"I can, but I don't know if you'll still be around."
He shrugged in his usual condescending way.
I spoke sharply. "You are my business partner Mr. Manetti! Whether you like it or not, Mr. Spoiled Rich Guy, you do have to occasionally show some interest!"
Jimmy suddenly looked startled; so did Caroline, as did everyone else around the table. They were all staring at me, looking very distressed.
I said, "What's the matter?"
"Victoria." Kevin told me, "You've got fangs. You're a Vampire."
I said, "I'm not the one who killed Kate! Wait for her to become undead. Then she'll tell you who really killed her, and that it wasn't me."
The others all stood up and backed away from the table.
I stood up and shouted, "I didn't kill Kate!"
I rushed away from the table, made my way through the crowd, went into my office, and locked the door behind me.
I can't stay in here, I thought. My friends might be calling the police right now. I might be in a jail cell when the sun rises in a few hours. If the sunlight shines into my cell, I'll burn up into cinders, and go back to Hell. This time I'll be there to stay!
Or my friends might not wait for Kate to revive. They might arrange for someone to ram a stake through my heart, just to keep me from killing anybody.
I picked up my handbag, grabbed my jacket out of the closet, unlocked my office door, and stepped back out into the Club. Out on the floor, things were just as raucous as ever. My friends were still standing beside the table. They saw me, and I ran out the front door.
I heard Pete call out, "Victoria! Come back! We have to talk!"
I rushed across the parking lot, got into my car and drove off.
"Talk"? Yeah—right; if you define the word “talk”, as somebody ramming a sharp wooden stake through my heart.
I have to get home and pack, I thought, and be on the road out of L.A. before dawn gives me the rosy finger.
Get home? I wondered. I've been renting a room at the Ramsey house. Now that I'm a vampire, is it still my home? "The one place, where they have to let you in, no matter what"?
If I can no longer just walk in, I'd have to wait for Pete or Caroline to show up and invite me in.
I thought, I have no place to go!
On the other hand, Pete had said, "...see you at home, Val." That was an invitation, wasn't it?
What if they show up, while I'm still packing? What if the Police show up? What if Kate doesn't revive?
Forget the "What ifs". I'll just have to pack my bags and be gone quick. What if I'm not quick enough? No! Forget the what ifs.
As I neared the Ramsey house, a police car drove past me, with its lights flashing.
Forget about packing my bags.
I made a turn at the next corner, and headed for the nearest freeway.
I thought, I have to find a place where I can be safely indoors, before the sun rises, and stay there until sunset. Any cheap motel will do. They take cash. No questions asked, but would any of them have vacancies? At 1:45 on a Saturday morning? Forget about L.A. I should leave the City now. Leave for where? Where can I be indoors, before the sun rises in five hours?
In five hours, my picture's gonna be shown on every morning news broadcast in southern California. If there's a reward, what desk clerk at any motel wouldn't be more than glad to cooperate with the Police?
A motel clerk in Sangreville?
Right! I am a vampire on the run, and what better place to find refuge, than Vampire Town itself; and it's only a two hour drive from L.A. My stay there won't have to be permanent. Once Kate becomes undead, she'll identify her real killer. Then, as long as I haven't killed anyone, I can work things out with everybody back in L.A.
And I won't have any reason to kill anyone, as long as I have those....
I forgot to take the six pack of pigs' blood, out of the fridge in my office in the Climaxes.