November 8th, 2011 | Published in Haventon Chronicles
Chapter Four Part One
The summer breeze carried the children’s laughter to the bench near the entrance of Haventon Park where David waited. He wasn’t sure how long he’d have to wait, so he’d brought his sketch pad and pencils with him and was busily drawing a happy toddler and her parents feeding the ducks on the small lake. He liked to sketch such mundane but happy things. They reminded him why he’d vowed to kill vampires when he joined the Order.
Today, he desperately needed that reminder. The events of the previous two days had shaken him badly, but this reminded him that in a world ruled by vampires there would be no happiness just despair. In the light of such thoughts, any doubts about his unusual vocation usually died but not this time. The questions bothering him faded but did not leave; he wished he had someone to talk to. But if he mentioned his doubts to Tanya he’d just receive the lecture he’d given already given himself. And anyone else would just think he was mad for believing in vampires. He’d just have to deal with this himself, but he had no idea how to do that.
“You know, David, you’re really quite a good artist. Have you considered trying to sell some of your drawings?”
David looked up, startled. Tanya was standing behind him looking at the pad on his lap.
“Thanks, but I’m not really that good.” He flushed slightly and slammed the pad shut. How had she managed to sneak up on him like that? “Is this the girl you mentioned?” he asked quietly, looking at the sullen teenager standing behind his cousin. Somehow she reminded him of Sarah at that age; she even had the same unusual eye colour. Given that Sarah had been aggressive, almost to the point of being deranged, this was not a good comparison; she had almost done jail time.
“She is. Anna Louden meet David Carter. He’s hopefully going to stop you making a fool of yourself again.”
Anna just grunted and glared at David. His stomach lurched, and in a cold rush, he felt like making his excuses and running away. All the same, he rose to his feet and extended his hand.
“Pleased to meet you,” he lied. “I just wish it had been under better circumstances.” He noted how grudgingly she took his hand and how quickly she took hers back. She still hadn’t spoken, and her tense posture and expression spoke of nothing except antipathy and tightly controlled anger.
When he met her unusual amber eyes, his stomach churned even more. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but it was as if he could sense what she was feeling, and she didn’t comprehend the gravity of the situation. From her point of view, he was an inconvenience at best and an adversary at worst. He snapped out of his reverie when Anna finally spoke, after Tanya nudged her. Her tone was determinedly neutral.
“I’ve been informed that you’re going to approve all my suspects before I deal with them,” she said. “I’ll give you my notes. I’m not here to socialize, especially not with a mediocre artist.”
“I see.” David glanced at Tanya. “Is she always this unfriendly?” He wondered briefly if Anna was another relative. She bore a strong resemblance to Tanya as well now that he looked, and sometimes it seemed half of Haventon was part of their extended family.
“No, sometimes she’s worse,” Tanya said cheerfully. “Come on, Dave. She’s not that bad. Sixteen’s just a difficult age.” Which was exactly what his father had said when Sarah had started to go crazy. David was certain he hadn’t acted out like that at sixteen.
“Shows what you know,” Anna snapped. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”
“Sorry.” Tanya smiled at her. “Why don’t you show David your notes like you said? I have to go.” She headed out of the park without saying goodbye but did turn around at the gate and throw David a ‘call me’ sign when Anna wasn’t looking.
David frowned at that. It wasn’t like her at all. Then, he looked over at Anna warily.
“I suppose that you’d better show me your notes then.”
“Yeah.” She rifled through her shoulder bag and handed him a spiral bound notebook. He read through the scribbled pages carefully and was relieved to note that she at least had the sense to use the Order’s special code, so the contents would seem innocuous to anyone untrained.
By the time he finished he had to concede it looked like she really had found a vampire this time. He’d been growing suspicious of the occupant of that address himself, and her notes just confirmed it. He waited for a while as if considering the matter; then, looked around to check that no one had wandered into earshot before nodding.
“You’re right about this one, so you have my approval. Good hunting, Anna.”
“Well, thank you!” she snorted. “I suppose that we’d better meet up again tomorrow. I have some more suspects.”
“More?” His lips twitched. “I don’t know. This bloody town you can’t turn around without tripping over a vampire. Give me your notes, and I’ll tell which ones I approve tomorrow.” He paused. “Here? At the same time?”
“I guess so.” She nodded grudgingly, handing over three sets of notes. Then, an uncertain look swept over her face, and she drew a fourth book out of her bag. “Erm… and could you please tell me where I went wrong with this one? I still don’t understand how he could have turned out to be human.” She sounded plaintive almost like a different girl. “I’m sorry I was so snippy. I really want to know what I missed.”
“Of course, I’ll look it over.” He frowned at her apparent mood swing. She wasn’t dissembling. He’d stake his life on that. But, somehow he found that even more alarming than if she’d been faking it. It was just another reminder of Sarah at that age. He didn’t want to deal with that again.
If Anna noticed his concern, she gave no sign. Her posture relaxed, and she gave him a smile as she placed the book on the bench beside him. It lit up her face making her much prettier. “Thanks,” she said. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
David retrieved his sketchpad and pencils as she strode away. The family he’d been drawing had moved on, but he had enough detail on them anyway. As he began to sketch in the rest of the pond and the surrounding trees, he listened to the children laughing on the swings.