Completely immersed in her book, she didn’t even notice the man who had sat down next to her on the park bench until he addressed her, his deep, husky voice making her jump.
“I am sorry, what did you say?” she stuttered looking up at him, precautionary putting the book down in between them as he slid closer to her when she reacted.
“Just that it must be some read, captivating such a beautiful woman on such a wonderful Autumn evening.” he smiled slightly and Autumn had to admit she found him interesting, handsome, her palms got sweaty and her heartbeat increased. Inadvertently she smiled and flushed slightly.
“Oh no, not at all. Bone-dry actually. It’s for my psychology class.” she said nervously, while pointing at the book.
“Oh, you study psychology? You look too young to be a college student.” his voice sounded encouraging and impressed.
“I am 19. And yeah. I want to help people deal with their issues, make them feel better. You know, work through grief and such.” a pang of pain shot through her at the thought of the recent loss of her mother. She swallowed hard, hoping to swallow the tears fighting to come up again down with it.
“A deep dark topic for a pretty girl like yourself.” a hint of a smile pulled up the edges of his lips.
“Maybe, but we all have lost someone we loved or will eventually. It’s a fact of life. Might as well find ways to help others cope.” she looked into his eyes, they were so captivating, her heart began to race.
“How honorable. I am sure your boyfriend is very proud of you.” he stated plainly.
“I do not have one.” why she was so honest with this perfect stranger she did not know.
“Now that is possibly the most shocking thing I have heard in a long time.”
“It’s not that I can’t. I mean, I am just .. waiting … for the right one.” she stuttered.
“Of course you are. My name is – Luke.”
“Nice to meet you, Luke, my name is Autumn.”
“Of course it is, beautiful like the season. Would you have a coffee with me, Autumn?”
“Oh, I really shouldn’t … I … umm .. what was I going to say? Did you ask … I was … ummm…” Autumn could suddenly not think anymore, there was … nothing.
“You were going to accept my invitation for coffee.” he said in a deep, husky, commanding tone.
“Sure, coffee sounds nice.” Yes, that was it. Right? Or was it?
“Let’s go. I know a shortcut to a wonderful place.”
Autumn followed him, unsure why, but he was very charming, well mannered and kind of handsome in a strange sort of way. But why did she agree? She normally never went with strangers.
They walked in silence away from the always hustling and bustling financial district of San Myshuno, where Autumn lived with her older sister Lauren and her boyfriend, until she would find a nice place for her own. Truth was, she had looked at a lot of nice places, money was not really an issue to her family, but could not bear the thought of living alone. She missed her mother. Vitto now lived in the home she grew up in, he would have let her stay if she only asked. She could live with her dad, or even one of her grandparents. But she did not want to. All of it just reminded her of her mom. She had explained to her why she and dad split up, but still, Autumn could not help but hate her father for having an affair. To her, her mother was the perfect woman. Everybody loved her, she was so beautiful, smart and loved. She should not have had to die so young. Her grandmother wanted to help her, but she looked so much like her mother, she could not bear to look at her at all. But if Lauren and her boyfriend were getting serious about marriage and kids, she would have to find a place. Eventually. Everything just hurt right now.
“There seems to be something weighing on your mind, Autumn.”
“Oh, yeah just stuff. College and all. You know.”
“Sure. Just around this corner now.”
Autumn had never been down this way, it looked dark and gloomy, definitely not a good part of town. But they kept going, as it got darker and darker around them. Shortcut, he said …
Autumn began to regret her decision when they turned into a yet even darker gloomier alleyway.
She felt him suddenly behind her pressing his hand and something in it with a terrible smell to her mouth and nose, she tried to fight but everything sounded like filtered through cotton wool and her vision got blurry.
He let go of her as she was fighting for air, coughing, until everything went dark.
Once she had completely passed out, he knelt down next to her, to check her vitals.
Satisfied with his finding, he pulled her up.
Lifting her into his arms.
To throw her over his shoulder to carry her away.
When she woke she found herself on a makeshift bed, the bedding had a chemical smell and sharp creases, as if it had just been taken from its package.
It was very cold, the cold reflecting off the stone walls and stone floors, there were no windows except one right in front of her, into a strange room, which Autumn could not say what it was supposed to be.
She noticed how cold the floor was and when she looked down on herself she saw she had no shoes and was wearing a strange dress she had never seen before, her hair was open now, flowing across her back. Her heart began to race. She looked up again, searching for a sign of explanation for all this, her mind still slowly coming to. She saw an odd instrument, possibly an organ, high back chairs. She tried the handles on the glass door, but of course those were locked.
She turned around and nearly had a heart attack. A coffin! And weird decorations. A scary golem or some sort of creepy statue. Where was she? And why?
“I see you finally woke up!” she suddenly heard a voice behind her, sounding cold and strange, echoing off the cold stone walls.
She was startled, jumped then turned around. Luke! She ran towards the glass door.
“Please, please Luke, let me go. I haven’t done anything to you. Oh… I …urgh.” she pressed her hand before her mouth as a sudden wave of sickness, followed by convulsions overcame her.
“There is a toilet around that left corner. You’ll be puking for a while. It’s from the chloroform.” he stated coldly.
Autumn could not respond just run and throw up. Once she felt slightly better, she fought herself up, washed herself up at the sink next to the toilet walked over back to where Luke had been and still was.
“Why? Why all this? Money? My grandpa, he is Ezio Auditore, and he is wealthy. He will pay, just tell him how much and let me go. Please!”
“Let you go? Why does everybody always say that, even in the movies? Has that ever worked for anyone? I am NOT letting you, plead as you will. And money? You think this is about money? Ha. You are all the same. No, Autumn, you are not going anywhere for a long time. And not until I am done with you. I will bring you some food, since you still need it now. But that nuisance should stop soon.” he turned to walk away.
“Wait! What does that mean?” she more yelped the words rather than speak them, tears flowing.
“Look at your neck in the mirror, and you should be able to figure it out.” Luke grinned and she saw fangs.
“No! Oh no! Oh please no!” Autumn ran to the mirror, her knees trembling. Her eyes grew wide in anguish while her hand carefully inspected the wounds, likely to assure they were really there. Sure enough, bitemarks. She had been bitten by a vampire, most likely to be turned herself. She collapsed to the ground, crying.
His laughter echoed from the walls as he was leaving, when he left her with the words
“You wanted to help troubled souls so badly, now you get to help me, even though I probably never had a soul.”
“Why? Why? I have never hurt anybody. Why? Please Luke, please do not leave me here” she pleaded. He halted, then turned around. She was on her knees now, begging.
“Disgusting!” he nearly spat the words at Autumn, then turned and left.
“No, please, noooo.” she sobbed.
She cried and cried until she collapsed to the ground and passed out.
When she came to, she was on the bed again, a plate with food on the floor next to it.
She did not want to eat. She felt weird. In a new kind of way.
It took her a moment to realize that she was no longer wearing her underwear. The unfamiliar dress she was wearing had quite a high slit up front. Had he? That couldn’t be, right? Oh please God, no! Her hand automatically went to her stomach region, while she kept shaking her head, trying to suppress tears.
“You really are a smart woman. I almost said girl, but that would no longer be true now, would it?” he voice sounded as evil as he looked, standing there, staring at her from cold eyes, once more she had not heard or seen him arrive.
“Please tell me you did not.” tears welled up again and ran down her cheeks. She already knew the answer, if only by intuition.
“Oh, but I did. Several times since you have been here. I preferred you unconscious, less of a fight that way to get the deed done. I want to make sure that you really will carry my child.” he said in a matter-of-fact tone belying the severity of his words. She closed her eyes for a moment. This had to be a dream, a terrible nightmare. Had to be. She opened her eyes and was still in this very same dismal place. No dream.
“No. No. No … why? Why me? You are not bad looking, I am sure you could have found a woman who wanted to have a child with you. To marry her and to…”
His cold laughter interrupted her, as she stood and walked towards the door to face her tormentor.
“This has nothing to do with settling down, has everything to do with getting even. You are not more than a means to an end. Don’t flatter yourself thinking I was so astonished by your beauty that I could not help myself. You are nothing to me. However, you will be useful in many ways to me one of them being to continue the family legacy. You have a lot of good qualities and are quite attractive, and while you were already here, might as well use you for that purpose to save myself some time. Hopefully it’s a boy, if not, fine by me, as long as the bloodline carries on.”
“You are insane. Completely insane. I am the hostage of a crazy person.” Autumn sobbed.
“Crazy? I have been called a lot of things and I certainly deserve most of it, but crazy is not one of them, Autumn. I am fully aware of what I am doing and even the last bit of it serves a purpose. Nothing is left to chance.” he chuckled joylessly.
“What purpose? I do not even know you. I have not done anything to you! Why all this?”
“You do not need to concern yourself with that, just function. Maybe you will walk from this after all, if you behave. Maybe. That part I have not finalized yet, as it depends on the actions and reactions of others.” he said in the usual cold, monotonous voice.
“But I am concerned. Why am I here? You can tell me, what have you to lose? I have already fallen prey to your lust.” Autumn felt only disgust at the thought.
“Lust for blood maybe. I have no interest in the joys of the flesh. You serve a purpose. I feel nothing. Nothing but hatred, need for revenge. Sex means nothing to me, you mean nothing to me. Your pleas will always fall on deaf ears with me. Oh, and clean yourself off, there are washcloths, towels and soap by the sink.”
He turned to leave.
“Please, PLEASE have compassion!” she tried once more.
“Compassion? I have no such feeling. I do not feel anything, not for you, not for anyone. Save your breath, for your body is already changing and it will definitely take your breath away when you die. At least for a while.” he snorted a laugh then left.
Autumn just stood stiff, in disbelief and shock, before she sat on the bed to cry till her tears ran dry.
Blaine, Liam and I were laughing hard at some silly comedy movie when the doorbell rang. I told the boys to continue watching, assuming it was probably Ezio with his horrible timing needing some random nothing, as I knew Melissa had gone away to see her friend Hylia again. Ezio did not do well without her.
I opened and two men, who I could just sense were cops in street clothing, looked at me, when one of them spoke. My smile vanished in an instant and my heart dropped.
“Are you Mrs. Cameron?”
I nodded, thinking Did Liam get into trouble again? Or did this have to do with Leonie’s father?
“I am detective Jenson, this is detective Clark, we are here to ask you a few questions about your granddaughter, Miss Autumn Hayes. Her older sister Lauren filed a missing persons report….”