“Remember that people are only guests in your story – the same way you are only a guest in theirs – so make the chapters worth reading.”― Lauren Klarfeld
Author’s Note: Preceding this chapter’s events are those featured in a brief video posted to FB, which can be found here.
Willow Creek Police Station 13th Precinct
In the middle of his work day at the precinct in Willow Creek, while he was buried up to his eyeballs in the unloved paperwork, the receptionist called Eric out front.
“Someone here to see you, Cameron! Persistent creep, asked for you by name and insists on talking to you and nobody else, so come and deal with him ASAP, detective!” she insisted.
“On my way, Gladys.” Eric groaned. It was easier than to try and argue. Despite a university degree in Criminology and passing the academy with flying colors, he was still at the beginning of his career here at the station and the chief abhorred drama caused by his officers.
Eric nearly fell over when he saw who his persistent visitor actually was.
“Caelan?!” he exclaimed, but then caught himself and immediately lead him to an interrogation room.
He watched the vampire suspiciously look around the room, before he started pacing, so Eric explained.
“Sorry, we are a small precinct and don’t have meeting rooms for visitors. Ahem … how can I help you?”
“I need your … police investigation skills. Or your machines. I don’t know how this mortal law stuff works, nor do I care, but I do know you can help me answer a burning question.”
“I’ll do my best, but I don’t think that we handle your kind’s business … I mean no offense, but honestly, I know nothing about vampires, their laws and what do do about their crimes …”
“I am not here to file a report or something! We handle our own business. I am here to request your help regarding an untimely death of a young mortal. You handle such things, right? For the mortals?”
“Ahem .. yeah … that we do. Did you kill someone? I mean … a mortal?” Eric asked carefully, hoping the answer would be negative. He knew Caelan killed vampires for a living, which was not Eric’s business. But mortals were. Just – how would you arrest a vampire? Especially one of Caelan Vatore’s magnitude. Yikes.
“I would hardly be stupid enough to come here for that, would I? No, someone I … cared about … perished prematurely. She was a mortal and I need to know how it happened. I suspect poison, but I need your help to know what and how. I brought a wineglass with some content, which I suspect to have been the carrier. I need you to analyze it and tell me if I am correct and what it was. Ahem … please. I can pay you for it. Handsomely.”
Out of the darkness of his thick, long leather coat Caelan produced a plastic bag with said item, Eric stared at it, then nodded.
“No payment needed, but I assume this is to be kept off the record? There won’t be a case for this landing on anyone’s desk, not in any precinct, am I right?”
“Of course it won’t. For obvious reasons. None of this ever happened, officially, nor am I here to talk to you about it. Not officially.”
“Caelan, I need to know more. What actually DID happen? Who was she? Off the record, and between you and I. And, can I see the body? I may get a better idea, and better evidence off it. Plus, if young mortal dies, she must have existed somewhere, meaning there would be a matching missing persons case.”
“You need to concern yourself with none of that. There was a missing person’s case filed, but said young mortal made sure it was closed, as she chose to remain with me and my kind. As my bride. Now that needs to be enough for you, Eric, I cannot and will not divulge any more. But I have reason to believe that my bride was poisoned. Someone knew she was vulnerable in her current state right before transformation. You see, she was about to become one of my kind, the change was imminent. A few more days and she would have been immune. Yet, she never made it there. That is the reason there won’t be a body. As soon as we confirmed her demise, she had to be cremated, because of the dark light within her. The vampire spark accelerates decomposure, I will spare both of us gory details, but if someone passes right before or during their transformation, time is of the essence.”
“Oh shit! I mean – sorry. All right. Forgive me, Caelan, but during our investigations we always have to look at all possibilities. Please do not take this the wrong way, it is not intended as an implication of any sort, but can you for sure exclude suicide?”
The vampire’s head snapped up and for a moment Eric thoroughly regretted his words, then Caelan’s shoulders sunk low, his eyes darkened, he looked down at his feet and shook his head.
“I cannot. In fact, hearing you say it, I must admit it is highly likely. Which is why I must know what poison it was and if she could have gotten it herself. There are many poisonous plants where I live, obviously none of them of any consequence to a vampire, so I never even bothered to learn about them until Vivien was born. When she was little, my father taught me what to keep her away from. Before the birth of my niece I never realized how dangerous my home was to a mortal. Can you help me, Eric?”
“Of course. I need about 24 hours, 48 tops if I have to re-runs some things. How can I reach you?”
“I can come find you at your home.”
“Oh no, I’d rather you didn’t. My wife is pregnant and she doesn’t know about … well … the Vatores. How about I drop the report off with Liam and Viv and she can let you know?”
“Thank you. You are a good man, Eric. I will never forget you did this for me. Your kindness will be repaid manifold in due time, as we Vatores cherish such gestures greatly.” the vampire abruptly headed towards the door
“No biggie, really. We’re all family here … kinda … in a way. Caelan …. my deepest condolences. From the bottom of my heart.”
Caelan only nodded, then turned and opened the door.
“Oh Caelan … wait!” Eric called after him, Caelan froze in the open door, waiting for Eric to continue.
“I have to see you out. You cannot get out of here without a keycard.” Eric elaborated.
His words were only met with a deep chuckle which echoed into the dark cloud left in the vampire’s wake.
“Yeah, right. Vampire. Duh. I don’t know how Liam deals with this shit. Or Vivien. Or Blake. I know I couldn’t. Jeeze. These guys have never been anything but nice to me, but they’re still enough to just about give me a coronary every time I see one. I really don’t blame Maeve for being so pissed at Scarlett for turning Blaine into one of them. No way I’d want them at my house, especially not Caelan. Mom and dad would put me out if I suddenly had nightly visits by that guy over at their place. I don’t even want to know how some of them are even out during daylight, but I am most certainly never gonna get on any of the Vatores’ bad side.”
Eric went straight to the lab, knowing it was lunch time and most of his colleagues were rushing to grab their grub, making it unlikely for him to have to answer uncomfortable questions …
Forgotten Hollow Vatore Castle
Hunched over on his bed, Caelan peeked up over at his desk, then sunk into himself again, before letting himself fall backwards.
On the desk an unassuming bundle of papers, neatly stapled together, with a post-it note stuck to the front, on which in Eric’s handwriting the elaborate laboratory mumbo-jumbo was explained for the layman to understand.
Wolfsbane, Lily of the Valley and Digitalis.
Three beautiful flowers, all three absolutely harmless to any vampire, found in abundance around all of Forgotten Hollow, but even small amounts ingested by a mortal were very deadly, especially in the high concentration the wine sample he had given to the young Cameron for analysis had contained. A gruesome death. Painful. Agonizing. Caelan curled up into a ball, imagining the pain Ingrid chose to endure in her final moments, to avoid having to be with him. Suicide. Everything pointed to it, no traces of foul play to be found. Had to have been her own doing.
“Why?! WHY?! Am I really so unlovable?! So despicable?” wailed the usually dark, dangerous and unaffected vampire, curled up on his bed.
His beautiful Ingrid must have despised the thought of becoming his mate so much that she had seen no other way but to take her own life. A painful death with poison over an eternity by his side.
Had to have been that way.
The only other people in this home had been his mother and father, and they would never, this Caelan was certain of. Nobody would be foolish enough to break into a vampire’s home, let alone that of the leader, besides the two Vatore wolfdogs were excellent guards. Unless they knew you well, or a Vatore family member let you in, you weren’t getting into the castle, at least not in one piece. No exceptions. No burglars, no assassins. And nobody Caelan knew came to mind as to have been the perpetrator. For what reason would they?
“Farewell my snow-white queen … you took your life from me, you took your love from me and with it my heart lies buried with you for all eternity.” Caelan mumbled, before a loud howl followed, ending in the heart-wrenching sound of sobs from the deepest bottoms of a man’s broken heart.