The final adventure. The last fiasco. And one hell of a mess.
Misty’s unusual life gets dangerous when Rose returns with a strange book and an even stranger companion. She intends to steal Roland’s soul, but Misty gets in the way, literally, and her plans backfire for everyone. The problem becomes a family affair when Roland and Misty need help, and their call for backup is answered by Misty’s aunt and uncle. The young and old couples find themselves soul-deep in trouble when the persistent pipsqueak vampire returns and makes an even worse mess than before. Now they’re up against an unexpected foe with the fate of their very souls on the line along with Misty’s chance at a long life with a certain handsome vampire. Will love prevail, or will Misty find herself on the wrong end of a silver bullet?
“Watch it with that thing!” Ralph yelped.
“I’m being careful!” I argued.
“Yer fingers! Yer gonna lose yer fingers!” he screamed.
I put my hands palms-down on the top of the cardboard box and glared at him across the void of dead wood. “You want to open these boxes?”
He scowled back at me. “Ya know what happened the last time Ah opened a delivery!”
Ralph and I stood in the middle of the kitchen with a new shipment of plates and cups for the diner. The regulars had had a fight the other night. Somebody had made the comment that their pistons were bigger than somebody else’s and chaos had ensued. The ancient china of the diner, much of it from the Tang dynasty, had exploded against walls, windows, stools, foreheads, pocketbooks, tiles, the coffee maker, and even in the cracks between the tables and the walls. There were no survivors. Of the china, that is.
The truckers all made it through with only a minor amount of scratches, cuts, stitches, and loss of blood.
“I don’t think these dishes are going to be haunted,” I told him.
“Ah’m not taking any chances, now stop yer yapping and start using that box cutter right!” he ordered me.
I held a box cutter in my right hand. This was the first time Ralph had allowed any of his employees to handle such a weapon. He usually just gave us the knives and forks with which to defend ourselves against unwanted advances.
“I know how to handle one of these,” I assured him as I returned to cutting the packing tape off the top of the boxes.
“Don’t cut towards yerself! Cut away!” he snapped.
“Then I’d be cutting towards you,” I pointed out.
The color drained from his face and he hurriedly stepped back. I appreciated the room. His breath smelled like a tuna-head sandwich after it sat on the counter for a biblical amount of time.
“Well, don’t cut so fast! This stuff ain’t going nowhere!” he ordered me.
I pocketed the box cutter, opened the first box, and peeked in. Ralph stretched his neck and looked inside. The china was of the finest quality that a Third-World, pre-industrial country could offer. The white color was off and the plates weren’t completely round. Ralph stepped up and took the top one in hand.
“Not too bad,” he commented.
“I don’t know if they’re thick enough,” I added. The interim between the rowdy night and the arrival of the plates had seen Ralph’s food eat away dozens of plastic and paper plates.
“They’ll work,” he growled. He set one on the counter. The plate rocked back and forth showing its bottom was as flat as a soup bowl. “Yer just gonna have to be careful with ‘em, that’s all.”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want the customers to think this place wasn’t on a fault zone,” I quipped.
“Ain’t it time for ya to leave?” he snarled.
“Past time,” I told him as I closed the flaps of the box.
“Ah’m not paying ya-”
“I know, I know, no overtime, holiday, or death-of-a-family-member’s-dog pay,” I finished for him.
“Darn right!” he agreed.
I snatched my jacket from its hook and slipped it on, but I paused at the door and turned to him. “I forgot to ask. Did that Finnegan guy ever stop bothering you?” I wondered.
“Yep. Last message Ah got from him was some phone call about fish and stuff,” Ralph told me. He shook his head and flipped off the front lights. “Some people are just nuts.”
“Aren’t we all?” I murmured as I opened the door.
I stepped outside and shivered. Gone was the autumn, and in its place was the cool chill of winter. A light snow fell as I stood at the top of the dangerous stairs. The steps beneath me were covered in crunched and frozen snow. One false step and you’d be pushing up daises a few months before spring.
“Can’t we buy a bag of salt for the stairs?” I yelled over my shoulder at Ralph.
“No, and don’t let me catch ya using the table salt, neither!” he shouted back.
I rolled my eyes and shut the door behind me. I grabbed the railing and stepped carefully down the steps. My car sat a few yards off, and a few miles off was a warm apartment and a certain frisky vampire who waited for me with a hot bowl of soup and hopefully no clothes. On the vampire, not the bowl.
My foot reached the last dangerous step when a sudden gust of wind blew over me. I was pulled forward. My hand lost its grip on the railing and I tumbled to the cold, ice-hardened ground. I fell on my side and skidded a few feet before I stopped a yard short of my car door.
I sat up and rubbed my bruised side. “Damn it. . .” I muttered.
“Too late,” a voice quipped.
I whipped my head up and found myself face to ankles with Rose the Brat Vampire. She grinned down at me with her sharp, pearly-white fangs. Behind her loomed a taller shadow of a man in a black coat. I put on a brave face and put myself in full reverse as I tried to scurry away from them on my hands and knees.
“Get her,” Rose ordered her companion.
The man swept past Rose and into the light from the diner kitchen. My eyes widened when I beheld Ginsleh the vampire hunter. He stooped and caught me by the collar. I was lifted off the ground, but I kicked and swung my arms. He pulled my back against his chest and pinned my arms to my side with his own limbs.
“What the hell are you doing helping a vampire?” I shouted at him. “She’s you’re enemy! Let me go and go after her!”
He sneered at me. “I don’t listen to humans,” he growled at me.
“Don’t try to trick my servant into believing he’s someone he’s not,” Rose scolded me as she came up to us. Her eyes glowed bright red and I felt myself getting sleepy. “Now we shall have our fun with you and Roland.”
My heavy eyelids closed and I lost consciousness.
The next thing I remembered was waking up with a bad hangover and even worse memories. I lay on my side, and my arms and legs were pinned against me. I opened my eyes and saw I was in the center of some sort of large, shadowed room. The only source of light came from the dozens of candles that melted around the edges of the space. They let me see that the walls were made of stone and were covered in cobwebs, dust, spiders, and slots for coffins.
I did a double-take. There were definitely coffins in those wide, long alcoves. My last memories of Rose and Ginsleh’s union told me I’d better find a way to escape. There was a tall, open stone doorway in front of me, and I could see a dark night sky and the shadow of trees and short slabs of stones. I twisted and turned, but the bonds that held me were tight.
“You won’t find an easy escape from those ropes,” Rose’s voice spoke up. She stepped from the shadows at my feet and smiled at me. “My servant is quite adapt at creating bonds even a vampire would have difficulty breaking.” Something glistened in her hand. I squinted my eyes and beheld my cellphone. She noticed where my gaze was and tossed the phone to me. It clattered to the ground and slid until it hit my gut. “I hope you will forgive me, but during your temporary sleep I used your device to call a friend. He promised to be here in a few minutes.”
My eyes widened. “Mhmh!” I yelled. You’ll have to forgive my strange way of speaking. I was gagged.
She laughed. “Exactly. And I have such a surprise awaiting him.” She swept her hand over the ground. I looked at the floor and noticed there were chalk lines around me. “I hope he appreciates the welcome I have for him. It took quite a few tries to get the precise measurements of the room to align with the symbols.”
A soft breeze blew through the open door and extinguished some of the candles. Rose frowned and pulled a lighter from her pocket.
“Blasted night air. . .” she muttered as she went to relight the group of candles.
I took advantage of her distraction to struggle in my ropes, but Rose was right. That guy could tie a mean knot. My hands could move just enough to wiggle, and I could flop from one side to the other. I did a single barrel roll and something fell from my pocket. My eyes widened when I beheld the box cutter. Ralph had forgotten to snatch it from me before I left.
I rolled back to my starting position and my fingers grasped the box cutter. Rose paused in her lighting and turned to me with a frown. I tried to give her an innocent smile, but it came more as a grimace. Her eyes narrrowed, but she returned to managing her war against electricity.
I grasped the box cutter in one hand and worked away at the ropes. Fortunately Ginsleh hadn’t heard about the miracles of chains or I’d have been in worse trouble. With a little distraction from another gust of wind I managed to cut through more than half the rope before Rose finished her candle lighting business. The loss of lighter fuel had forced her to use the candles, and she held one in her hand when I heard a noise at the doorway. Rose and I looked and saw Ginsleh in the doorway. He bowed his head to her.
“My Mistress, he comes,” Ginsleh informed her.
“Good.” She dropped her candle into place and moved to the rear of the room. A tall table of stone stood at the back and on it lay a few dozen candles and a large book that would have made Tolstoy envious. She picked up the book and looked to her new servant. “Move to the side and allow our friend entrance.”
Ginsleh stepped over to her and against the coffin wall. I sawed faster through my bindings, but it wasn’t easy keeping the pair from noticing. In a moment there came another sound in the doorway, and I looked up dreading what I would see.
Roland, my roommate and boyfriend, stood in the doorway.
“Mmm!” I yelled at him.
The message must have been lost in translation because Roland stepped into the room.
“Not a step closer,” Rose warned him.
He jerked to a stop and glared at her. “What was your purpose in stealing Misty away?” he questioned her.
A wide smile slipped onto her lips as she flipped open the book to one of the last pages. “I will show you.” She raised one of her hands above her head and her dark red eyes lit up with glee. “May the dark lord’s power rise without and trap this dark one’s soul within!” she shouted.
A wind tore from the book and the markings on the chalky ground lit up with an eerie white glow. The wind tore the gag from my mouth, but not the ropes from around my arms. Dark light burst from the symbols beneath Roland’s feet and morphed into bars. They reached from the floor to the ceiling, and emitted a dark, pulsing glow of light from their thick bodies. Now we were both trapped.
And I really needed to go to the bathroom.