Ezio nearly looked as pale as Blaine always had when he first arrived at our doorstep, just for different reasons. Blaine had always been on the lighter complexion side, but when he died he was embalmed before he rose again as a vampire, which left him significantly paler than vampires like Ezio and me, who just passed and came back. Ezio’s paleness was from the news he just received. Of course the cops went by his house first, him being the VIP that he was. He had just not been home, so they came to us instead, then circled back to him. After that, he was at our place in no time. With Melissa away at her friend’s I had no doubt he’d be here soon.
“Should I call her? I do not want to worry her. But I have to tell her. I must call her. But then she will be worried and…” Ezio brabbled on and on, I was leaning on Blaine, who was fighting to keep his usual cool composure during crisis situations himself.
“MAFIOSO! Enough! You can call Melissa tomorrow, or whenever we know more. No need to drag her down with us now. If you have such an itchy dial finger, call your former son-in-law and then Lauren to find out what they know.” Blaine stopped Ezio’s panic attack.
“I can call Lauren..” my voice was little more than a whisper, I jumped up to get my phone, when Blaine held me back by my hips and pulled my onto his lap.
“No babygirl, I know you. You would lose your shit. I am sure Lauren is already beside herself.” Blaine put his arm around me and gently guided me back to my spot next to him on the couch.
“Oh gawd, poor Lauren. Poor Autumn. Oh gawd. I should have been there for them. I should have tried harder. Instead I was here painting stupid walls and…” I talked myself straight into another sobbing fit. Blaine pulled my head down into his lap and gently pet my hair till I calmed down.
“Babygirl, I am sure this did not happen because you bought the last can of paint out from underneath someone. Relax. I am sure Autumn is fine and it will all get resolved fast. I know it all looks bad now, but I am sure we will find her.” Blaine tried to calm me further.
“He knows nothing!” Ezio exclaimed jumping up, startling us and causing Blaine and me to follow suit
“What’s with the attitude, meatball?!” Blaine barked facing Ezio as if ready to brawl.
“What attitude? I am telling you what Casey said. What’s with you all of a sudden?” Ezio mumbled while sitting down on the couch. We had not even realized he had been talking on the phone, so Blaine and I sat back down as well albeit in a different order.
“Sorry meatball, never mind. Guess we are all a bit on the edge here tonight.” Blaine apologized, directing his attention to his fingers a sign he was nervous.
“I”ll call Caleb! I am going to call Caleb.” Ezio said in a changed voice, then began to dial when Blaine took his phone, hung up and stuck Ezio’s phone in his own pocket.
“Autumn is a mortal. What is Caleb supposed to do? I’ll keep that phone until you calm down!”
“But we are vampires. He always talks about keeping all of us safe and helping. So let him help. Maybe one of his many mind tricks can detect her or something.”
“Caleb is a vampire elder, not Master Yoda. Leave him out of it. We have to find her the normal ways, searching for her, asking friends.”
“Are you daft?! I am quite sure the police has done that already! After all, she is an Auditore. Maybe not in name, but in heritage!” Ezio barked at Blaine.
“Yeah, sure, the express lane at the police station for you, bubba!” Blaine shook his head.
“Do you really want to fight now? Because I will. I am a weak vampire no longer! I can give you a good run for the money now!”
“Ezio! Blaine! Knock it off you two idiots!”
Both halted their measuring up, and turned their heads to me, instantly realizing why I stopped them. Both let off and just shook their heads nearly simultaneously.
We were on edge, understandably so. But nobody had answers.
This was when suddenly Caleb materialized.
“Good evening, and right up front apologies for my entrance, and yes, this is still strictly prohibited, but I am sure you will not mind my breaking the rules in this instance. I was counting on finding all of you together here. I have news. Here, read this.”
Caleb handed me a letter sized piece of paper.
On the page a handwritten note
“Who the fuck is ‘L.D.’?” Blaine said what all of us where thinking.
“Beats me. Grace found the letter at our front door, someone must have slid it underneath. Naturally nobody has seen or knows anything. After all, it is Forgotten Hollow.”
“And you are sure this means Autumn? Why would you get it then? You have nothing to do with her. She is not a vampire.” Ezio shrugged at his own words.
“I am going to go with common sense here, Ezio. Autumn is directly connected to the three of you, two by blood and one by relation. And I do not want to be the naysayer, but the first thing that comes to mind that we all have in common was a certain murder mystery. I have racked my brain, but could not come up with any connections between that woman you guys and Autumn. Or any L.D.s for that matter. But then I thought of another covert mission we all were a part of in one way or another, and somehow that would make sense, since it is not exactly a secret that we all are well acquainted not to say friends.”
“The Count.” I said.
“Exactly. He was a piece of work, but did have his dedicated followers. Assume this could possibly be the work of one of them. They all tended to be on the odd side, just like he was.”
“So you think someone wants to trade Autumn for the Count? Makes no sense. Why not take your kids?”
“Because my children are the children of an old vampire of a very high rank and there are plenty of security measures in place. Even though my twins are mortals, not vampires, I am confident it is next to impossible to get to them. I could only guess why Autumn and not take one of you guys’ kids, and that guess would be that she is a shared link. I may be wrong, but as you know I rarely am. So prepare yourselves.”
Caleb may sound arrogant to most, but we knew him well enough to know that he wasn’t. Maybe it was his age, maybe his intellect, maybe his vampire powers or a combination thereof, but there was little that Caleb did not know or at least could figure out.
“Could they want my son, Elias?” Ezio asked, now even more worried.
Elias was still a baby, but blessed – or cursed – with very special powers, very rare among vampires. (see here)
“There is a faint possibility, but I doubt it. He is pretty useless right now. And I would not know how the news should have gotten out, unless you guys spilled the beans.” Caleb sounded certain.
All of us shook our heads.
“Could Nicole Vanderbilt be involved?” I asked.
“Oh, you have not heard then. No, not her. She is no longer with us.” Caleb stated.
“As in moved away?” I asked.
“As in struck by lightning and fallen to ashes. An undeserved demise and tragedy, even for someone like her.” Caleb said.
Blaine tried hard to hide a grin, evidently not hard enough as he earned a stern glance from Caleb.
“Didn’t they have a kid? A son. I don’t even know his name.” Ezio put into consideration.
“Drago. His name is Drago Count Dracula now. No L.D. there. And I do not know what happened to him. He left the country years ago last I heard, but there are ways for vampires to even hide from the vampire society. I cannot say where he may be now.” Caleb said.
“He does not fit the profile anyway. We need someone to fit the initials L and D.” Ezio shook his head.
“Does not fit the profile? What the hell are you trying to be? Mr. Criminal Minds?” Blaine asked Ezio, sarcasm dripping off his words.
“I did not hear anything productive out of you, punk!” Ezio hissed at Blaine.
“I would not call parroting TV shows you have seen ‘productive’ you fashion victim!” Blaine snorted a laugh.
“I hardly find this necessary at all, gentlemen. I must leave now. Will be in touch should anything new develop and ask the same of all of you. Evidently there will be more forthcoming.” Caleb said and disappeared in a dark cloud as fast as he had arrived.
We sat puzzled for a while but were accomplishing nothing, instead driving ourselves crazy, so Ezio went home and once Liam was back home from another outing with his friends, we all turned in for the night too.