Week 5: Vignette Assignment 4: Major Crisis 1: Internal
|Stephanie sat at the solid oak table in Tomas’s kitchen. She tapped the pen in her hand against the note pad in front of her. Tomas gave it to her with instructions to write down the necessities she needed so he could pick them up for her.
“I’ll go with you,” she said.
“No,” he said. “You’re safer her with the protection spell around the house.”
And how will that protect me from the vampire sleeping in the root cellar? She wanted to ask.
As if reading her mind, he answered. “Liam will not try to feed on you again as long as you wear your mother’s holy symbol.”
“If I’m wearing this, why can’t I leave the house?” Stephanie clutched the silver Celtic Cross that hung between her breasts.
Tomas paused on his way out the door and looked back over his shoulder plaid clad shoulder. “Not all of Osiris’s minions are the undead. I’ll be back for the list after I finish with the sheep.”
Before she could speak another word, he was out the door. She stared down at the page. Instead of a shopping list, it contained a pros and cons list. Liam’s attempt to feed on her revealed two things. She was able to use the white hot light from inside to fend him off but her strength weakened under his resolve. After one pull of his mouth on her neck, his fangs retracted and he hissed in disgust. Stephanie covered the wound with her hand to staunch the blood. When she pulled it away the puncture marks were scabbed over. So I can repel the undead and heal wounds.
Those two facts were written under the pros. Tomas offered to train her so she could become better with her magic. Another pro. Though he claimed to be at least a century old, he didn’t look a day over thirty. Unlike Liam who was pale, skinny, and dark haired, Tomas was tanned, broad, and blond with piercing blue eyes.
Lee’s been dead for less than forty-eight hours and you’re lining up a replacement? You slut. Stephanie chided herself yet again for being attracted to Tomas. He’s way too old and he’s been stalking you since infancy. Creeper!
She was about to cross out the last pro when she reexamined how many days passed. They rescued her two nights ago. Liam tried to feed on her last night. He was hauled off of her and out of the room before she could question him but the words with child stuck in her mind. Impossible, I’m on the pill. Or she was until her supply was burned when Tomas set Osiris’s mansion ablaze.
“Oh my god!” She dropped the pen and it rolled off the table. In the surrounding silence it sounded like a gavel hitting a judge’s desk. Pregnant? With Lees child? Of course, who else would it be? Was she really going to go on the word of a vampire? She needed one of those sticks to pee on. Grabbing the pen from the floor she turned back a page to the shopping list Tomas wrote. Most of it was food. Her list was beneath it. She scanned her side of the list. Most of it was clothes, and she did her best to include sizes. She wasn’t sure if the American sizes she used would translate into European sizes.
Her pen was poised to write pregnancy test but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was afraid of it coming back positive. What would Tomas think? Would he be disappointed? Why did she care? There was another person in the house who’s opinion she didn’t care as much about. Tearing off her half of the list she scribbled pregnancy test on it and made her way down to the root cellar.
Liam lay in a Twin bed set deep in the shadows away from the direct light she let in by leaving the door open. He’d done a pretty good job at turning the small space into a habitable bedroom. There was an area rug on the floor and a nightstand by the bed with a reading lamp. He shifted beneath the dark covers and sat up rubbing his eyes.
“If you’ll do me a favor and close that, I’ll turn the bedside light on for ye.” He growled gesturing at the door.
“You won’t try to eat me again?” Stephanie challenged pulling the door closed behind her.
“I don’t drink from pregnant women as a rule.” Liam reached over and flicked the light on. “At least not once I know there’s a babe at risk.”
“Not even when you worked for Osiris?” Stephanie asked.
“Not even then.” He through back the covers and swung his legs out of the bed. Giving her a full monty view.
“Dear god!” She turned away.
“Ye didn’t complain last night.” She heard him pad toward the other side of the small room. He opened and closed a drawer. “Alright, sweetheart, ye can look at me again.”
She glanced over her shoulder to make sure he was not screwing with her. He sat on the bed wearing a pair of dark pants.
“Does Tomas know you’re down here?” He folded his arms over his chest.
“No,” Stephanie said. “I need you to pick somethings up for me.”
“He can do that,” Liam said.
“Pretty sure he won’t find them at a farmers’ market.” She stepped forward and offered him the list.
He skimmed it and smiled. “Thirty-four C eh? Just as I suspected. He’ll go to the stores ye need him to.”
“I don’t want him to know about the last thing,” she said.
He looked down the list and back up at her. “I’m never wrong about that. Once ye’ve tasted the blood of a pregnant woman ye don’t forget it.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” she said. “About the taste I mean. But I’ve been on the pill up until yesterday.”
“When was your last ladies’ time?” He asked.
Stephanie thought for a moment. She kept track of that on the calendar in her phone which was also lost in the fire. “You can’t tell that by the taste of my blood?”
“I can tell ye when it is near.” His eyes lowered to the crotch of her jeans. “But not from the vein in your neck.”
“That’s disgusting!” A nervous laugh escaped before she could tamp it down.
“Blood is blood.” Liam shrugged. “And yours is definitely carrying the hint of new life. Some would find that alluring, but not me.”
She moved closer and took the list from him. Tearing off the bottom, she handed him the part with the pregnancy test on it. “Please?”
“Very well,” Liam said. He tucked it into the pocket of his pants. “But it will have to wait until after sunset.”
“Thank you,” she said.
She was just coming back into the kitchen as Tomas was entering the house. He stared down at the half sheet of paper she left on the pad. It covered her pros and cons list. She held out the other half as she crossed the kitchen to him.
“I made a pretty detailed list and continued it on the back,” she said. “Most of it you’ll probably have to get at a department store and I’m not sure of the sizes. Are you sure I wouldn’t be safer with you?”
“I’m sure.” He tucked both lists into the pockets of his jeans.
“I’ll pay you back, I promise,” she said. “I’m not quite sure how since my lively hood went up in smoke two days ago.”
“I can always use help around here,” Tomas said. “Liam’s not much of a farm hand since he sleeps all day.”
“I don’t know the first thing about sheep or crops, but I’m willing to learn.”
“And the magic?”
“One step at a time.”
“You can start by reading the books in the living room,” he said. “Is there anything else you need that isn’t on this list?”
My life and friend back? She felt the tears burn in her eyes. She closed them before any could escape. “No, thank you.”
“I will return as soon as possible,” he said.
His truck rumbled to life and the gravel crunched under his tires as he pulled away from the house. Stephanie pulled one of the books from the shelf in the living room and settled onto the couch. There was enough light from the window behind her to read by. The text was written in old English. Her eyes crossed after the first few pages. She set the book aside and turned to look out the window. The sun was beginning to set. Her hand rested on her flat stomach. If she was pregnant, there was no doubt in her mind the child was Lee’s. A little something for her to remember him by. She smiled at the idea of seeing aspects of him in the child as it grew. If I keep it. Why wouldn’t I? Perhaps because you can’t afford to take care of yourself let alone someone else?
She wasn’t sure the options were for unplanned pregnancy in Scotland. Since she didn’t have any of her electronic devices to look it up on. She didn’t have any money for a ticket back to America. By the time she could scrape enough together it would be too dangerous for her to fly. Women were advised against flying during their third trimester.
“You’re getting way ahead of yourself,” she said aloud. “Let’s see what the test reveals before we go making any life changing decisions.”
“Talking to your imaginary friend?” Liam's voice inquired from the dark room.
Stephanie shrieked as she groped for the lamp on the night stand. It clicked on bathing the room in a muted golden glow. Liam stood beside the end table offering her a plastic pharmacy bag.
“Thank you.” Her hands shook as she took the bag. “I wasn’t expecting you to be back with it so soon.”
“Mum always said it was rude to make a lady wait.” He moved toward the front door. “Speaking of which I’ve got an F&F lined up so if there’s nothing else you need…”
“F&F?” She regretted the question as soon as it left her mouth. Even more when he translated.
“Feed and Fu—”
“Got it,” she cut in.
“Do you want me to stay until Tomas gets back?”
“Nope, all good here,” she said. “Go have your… fun?”
“Sure you don’t want to tag along?”
“And watch you drain the life out of some poor defenseless human? No, thank you.”
“I don’t drain the life out of them.” He sounded a bit defensive. “I just take payment for the pleasure I provide.”
“So then shouldn’t it be Fuck and Feed?” It was out of morbid curiosity she was continuing this line of conversation.
“Who says one comes before the other?” He smiled and winked at her before leaving.
Stephanie shook her as she turned and climbed the stairs to the second floor. She closed the door of the bathroom the three of them shared. They were quite meticulous for men. She took a moment to read the instructions on the back of the box before opening it. After following them she set the test stick on the counter, pulled up her pants, and washed her hands. Since there was no way for her to set a timer, she stepped out into the hall and watch the second hand on the wall clock make three rotations. Stepping back into the bathroom and picked up the test stick. Taking one breath to hearten her self she turned it to see the digital display.
There was no plus symbol or blue lines just the letters P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T. OMG! She stared in horror at the damning word. This can’t be!
Picking up the box she reread the instructions to make sure. According to the box the test was 99% accurate four days before the next expected period. Without her phone she wasn’t quite sure when that was. She recalled being on her third week of pills, so her period she come before the end of the next week. I’ll just use the second test one week from now. The slamming of the kitchen door almost made her drop the used test. Setting the box on the counter, she wrapped the used test in toilet paper and shoved it to the bottom of the trash beneath the rest of the garbage.
“Stephanie?!” Tomas’s voice called through the house.
“I’m up here!” She called back. Grabbing the box containing the unused test she hurried into the bedroom she slept in. The thud of heavy footsteps heralded his ascent of the stairs. Stephanie pulled open the top drawer of one of the night stands and shoved the box into the back. She was just turning around and pushing the drawer closed behind her when he appeared in the door way.
“What are you doing up here in the dark?” He asked.
“I was taking a nap,” she said. “I just got up to use the bathroom.”
“That explains why the light is on,” he disappeared from the doorway and reappeared holding the bag of trash.
“W-what are you doing with that?” She asked.
“The trash is collected tomorrow,” he said. Stepped into the room and flicked a switch on the wall by the door. The lamps on the night stands turned on. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” she said not meeting his eyes.
“You look a bit pale.” He cupped her chin and tilted her face up to examine it. “Did Liam tried to feed on you again?”
“No he went out for a—” she stopped before using Liam’s terminology. “He went out to eat.”
Tomas released her chin and shook his head. “With all the pigs’ blood I stock in the fridge.” He sighed. “Come on down stairs. I’ll make you something to eat.” He paused in the door way. “I picked up a few things that weren’t on your list.”
“Like what?” Stephanie’s curiosity made her forget about her impending motherhood.
“It’s a surprise.” He smiled and took her by the hand. “Come on down and see.”
She let him lead her down the stairs. The feel of his warm calloused hand sent a frisson of pleasure through her. There were paper shopping bags all over the kitchen table. He pulled out one of the chairs and settled her into it.
“Your clothes are in all of these bags.” He gestured to one set. Then brought over a large white bag with a black apple on the front with a section missing. It was a logo that was hard to miss.
The corners of her mouth turned up in an eager smile. Reaching into the bag she pulled out a small white rectangular shaped box. Opening it revealed the latest generation of a smart phone. She pulled out a medium sized rectangular box to reveal an electronic tablet. The final box contained a 15” laptop. She turned to see him squat in front of a cupboard rummaging through the pots and pans he kept there. He stood and set a frying pan on the stove.
“Eggs okay for you?” He asked.
“Sounds great,” Stephanie said. She walked over to stand beside him. “Tomas, the electronics are…”
“Not quite as nice as what you had before?” He asked.
“It’s nicer,” she side. “These are high end pieces of technology. Mine were second hand refurbished. This must have put you out at least five thousand euro.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I can afford to splurge to replace what I destroyed.”
“I can’t afford the data plan for the phone,” Stephanie said.
“I can,” he said. “I just wish I could give you back your friend so easily.”
“Oh, Tomas.” She put her arms around his waist and let the tears come this time. “How can I repay you for this?”
“I only ask that you embrace the truth about your destiny and let me teach you what you need to survive.” He slid one arm around her waist and drew her close. “Osiris is still out there Stephanie. He’ll build another army and he’ll use it to destroy those who stand in the way of his plans.”
“You mean us?” Stephanie placed a protective hand over her belly.
“I mean you.” He released her and moved to the refridgerator to get eggs and butter. “Why don’t you take your things upstairs. I’ll call you down when this is ready.”
She hauled the bags to her room in three trips. As she put the clothes away, she tried to decide what her next steps should be. The decision would be easy if the test came back negative. She’d learn to be a Cleric, track down Osiris, and make him pay for Lee’s death. If it came back positive, she would have to put the child’s welfare above her own. Her parents died fighting Osiris leaving her an orphan. She would not do the same. All she needed to work out was how to get back to America. She could hide from Osiris there. In the meantime, she decided to use the next few days to learn what Tomas wanted to teach her.
Word Count: 2,892