Chapter 4: Fairytale
Sunday – October 28th
As much as Mia loved the Ontario scenery, it was practically constant and frankly, after an hour, she was bored out of her mind. Vlad was silent for the most part, though Mia had caught him more than once moving his lips silently, as if he was talking to himself. As entertaining as it was, it didn't do anything for Mia other than spare her a couple minutes of boredom.
Mia wasn't actually bored enough to start a conversation, though that possibility was looking better as the minutes ticked by. The few conversations they did have usually ended up with him either laughing at her or someone died. But at the rate time was moving - as in slowly, she might just risk it (not that she wanted anyone to die - she was, though, willing to be laughed at if it meant something to do.)
It was then that she remembered the cheap romance novel that she had picked up at the gas station the night before. Digging it out of her bag, she first read the summery, then studied the cover picture. The typical tanned, muscled hero stood against a backdrop of the sea, a slender, busty woman swooning in his arms. It wasn't something she normally read (not that she would admit out loud, anyways), but it was better than dying of boredom.
The novel started out describing the main character: the daughter of a king. She was rebellious, with very unprincess-like ideals (not to mention ideas fair modern to the time period), beautiful, kind, generous, stubborn, did she mention beautiful? A chapter in or so, the princess sneaks out of the castle, masterly slipping past the guards in a manner that would make master thieves green with envy, to walk among the city folk and 'study' their way of living. Anyways, she runs into a masked man, who nicks her pendant, her late-mother's, that holds oh so much sentimental value, she chases after him, eventually getting them both into trouble, going on some dangerous adventure and, of course, falls in love.
She was halfway through the book when she put it down, she didn't need to finish it to know how it ended. Either the princess will run away with her pirate-lover, or she'll end up guilting her normally cold-hearted father into accepting her relationship. Then they'll get married, pop out numerous babies, and live happily ever after. It was so sweet it was giving her cavities.
"Not enjoying your book?" It was the first time either of them spoke since their name exchange.
Mia realised she had been scowling and quickly wiped it from her face. "Not really."
Vlad tilted his head to the side, "Care to elaborate?"
He almost sounded interested, but Mia couldn't see why he would be. Maybe he was getting bored again? And if he was wouldn't that mean that he'd kill her sooner rather than later? She should probably not to try his patience then.
She sighed; she was becoming tired of having to fear for her life. "It's just stupid and really cliché…"
Vlad hummed, asking her not in words to continue.
"Uh," it was embarrassing enough that her kidnapper knew she was reading a trashy romance novel, but to actually explain it to him? "It is just about this perfect princess who meets this pirate, kicks some butt, saves the day, falls in love, makes lots of babies… You know, the usual thing."
He was smiling; no where near the grin or smirk he sported when he was laughing at her, "The usual thing?"
Mia nodded, more to herself than to him. "Yeah, all these books are pretty much the same. They just contain smut with some plot scattered in-between."
"I take it you have read enough of these to come up with that conclusion?" There was laughter in his voice now and that smile that Mia was beginning to like, just a tiny bit because she was not going to like him, turned into his patented smirk.
Mia blinked, realising what she had said. Sputtering, she tried to salvage what was left of her pride, what was left of it anyways, "I… of course not! It just, they are all the… same… really." Feeling her cheeks burn in embarrassment, Mia covered them with her hands and refused to look at the man beside her. She couldn't believe he thought she read those trashy books all the time when she didn't! She had only read like three, ok four counting the one she was reading now. Dammt!
Vlad's smirk didn't fade even as the seconds ticked by in silence, infuriating Mia even more. What did he find so funny about her anyways? All he did was embarrass her time after time. Scowling, Mia slumped into her seat and picked at the seat belt. Why did she put up with this anyways? So he was a vampire who could toss her around like a rag doll, kill her by ripping her to pieces or whatever else? Not to mention the fact that he probably had no qualms about killing anyone else who came too close or attempted to help her. Defeated, Mia realised she had just answered her own question.
She felt it before she heard it, and it sent her cheeks flaming again. Her stomach, growling in protest, made itself known by quite audibly gurgling. The rest of the food that Vlad had given her didn't last long, and she had finished it off not long after they started traveling again. Now, hours later, her stomach was reminding her that she hadn't eaten a proper meal in too long.
Her hopes that Vlad hadn't her stomach's protests shrivelled miserably when he chuckled at her plight. Could it get any worse?
"I take it you are hungry?" It wasn't so much a question as it was a statement, and Mia answered with a glare. Vlad just smiled, and shrugged towards to the road, "There is a rest stop not far from here; we'll stop for a bite there."
Mia exhaled slowly. What did he mean by 'we'? He wasn't planning on making a meal out of someone, was he? Then again, wouldn't it be better that he was well fed so he wouldn't set his sights into making her into a meal?
The remaining drive to the road stop was filled with nervous anticipation. Anticipation for a real meal, but not looking forward to knowing exactly Vlad was going to have as his meal. It almost made her lose her appetite, almost, but not quite. It made her wonder if she was slowly becoming desensitized to the idea of death, and it left her with a sick feeling in the base of her stomach.
Once parked and situated in a booth at the roadside diner, Mia was nearly bouncing. She had polished off her glass of Pepsi, the caffeine and sugar successfully waking her up, even if she hadn't been already.
Vlad watched, amused and not hiding the fact, as she squirmed in her seat. "Do not despair; your dinner will be here shortly."
Mia was about to retort when her burger and fries was set down in front of her, the waitress's fingers barely left he plate before she grabbed the cheeseburger and bit a chunk out of it. Completely immersed in her meal, she forgot about Vlad and his mocking words and missed the perplexed look from the waitress who refilled her empty glass and filled Vlad's up with coffee.
Mia demolished the burger in record time, barely stopping in-between bites to gulp down her drink.
It was during an interval when she was washing down a bite that she looked at her kidnapper, his presence more of or less forgotten when presented with food. His cup of coffee was cooling in front of him, a very amused smile on his face. "You are going to give yourself a stomach-ache."
Mia frowned into her soda and swallowed, "Probably."
Convinced, Mia worked on her meal at a slower pace. A stomach-ache was not something she wanted to deal with, nor did she want to ruin her meal by not tasting it.
Even after taking the time to savour her meal, it only took her an additional few minutes to finish the last of her french-fries. Leaning back, she watched as Vlad traced a finger around the rim of his cup of coffee as he gazed absently out of the window. The cup was only half full, making her wonder if he had actually been drinking it, and before she knew it, her mouth ran away without her. "Did you actually drink that?"
Leaning his head on his palm, Vlad shifted his gaze from the night to his 'source of amusement', a corner of his lips tilting in a half smile, eyes glinting mischievously. "Why? Did you want it?"
Mia huffed, turning her head to purposely not look at him, "You know what I mean."
"Do I?" He raised the cup to his lips, taking a sip.
Scowling, Mia chose to fiddle with a piece of lettuce that had escaped her burger on the now mostly empty plate. She was not going to give him any more ammunition to tease her with. It was really grating on her nerves and she was actually considering making a run for it. The place was teaming with truckers. The loud, boisterous kind that were more like to slam her head into a lamp post than listen to a girl rambling on about vampires. Frowning, Mia decided that she was probably better off asking for help from someone who wasn't just as likely to knock her over the head and throw her into a ravine.
But who could she ask for help? Mia had seen what Vlad could do, and who knew what else he could do. Could he turn into a mist or bats? Could he melt into the shadows or control people with his mind? What she did know was that he was capable of ripping someone's throat out, not to mention move really quickly. He could scare the living day-lights out of her just by grinning at her. At least he didn't have hairy palms or blood-shot eyes. Ick.
"Do you want any dessert, hun?" The waitress was suddenly beside the table, her worn notebook in one hand while she picked up the empty plate. "You tore through that meal like you hadn't eaten in days, I'm sure you have room for more."
"Um," she looked at Vlad, he was the one paying for her meal, after all. Maybe it was taking advantage of his moment of charity, but if he was going to feed her, she was sure as hell going to get everything she could out of it. Besides, apple pie would be really good right about now.
The man in the chair across from her shrugged his shoulders, his hair pulled back from his face in a lose pony-tail now. "Go ahead."
Smiling, Mia quickly ordered her piece of pie, declining the offering of coffee. When the waitress left to retrieve her dessert, Mia looked at her kidnapper. "Why are you feeding me anyways? I'd be more miserable and prone to outbursts if I was hungry."
Chucking into his coffee, Vlad took a sip before setting it down. Resting his head on his palm as he leaned his elbow on the table, he watched her with calm green eyes, his sunglasses neatly folded and resting on the table. "Perhaps, but you are also less likely to do something foolish when you aren't desperate from hunger. Besides," a smirk curled at his lips, "you are much more interesting when you're rational."
Confused, Mia barely acknowledged the fact that a warm slice of apple pie had been placed in front of her. What did he mean by that? He certainly hadn't known her long enough to come to that conclusion, and she certainly had not been entirely rational when he kidnapped her. Hell, no one would be rational after being kidnapped. "I don't understand."
"I suppose you wouldn't." He looked pointedly at her cooling pie, "Your dessert is getting cold."
"Huh?" Mia blinked stupidly before remembering that her pie had been served. Blushing, she busied herself with eating, taking the time to savour her favourite dessert instead of inhaling it like she had with the hamburger and fries.
The rest of her meal was finished in silence, her kidnapper not seeming willing to speak further on what he meant. The waitress came with the bill and quickly left with a couple of twenties. Vlad had generously left whatever was left as a tip. Mia rolled her eyes at the completely charmed expression on the over-worked waitress's face, she was awestruck and Mia couldn't tell if it was because of the tip that was probably more than what she made in four hours work or just from the charm and presence that Vlad exhibited. Frankly, Mia was getting annoyed that every female in a yard's distance stopped to oogle her kidnapper. Didn't vampires want to blend in and not cause undo attention to themselves?
Mia shook her head, ignoring the amused look that Vlad gave her. Maybe he was luring in a meal. It would make sense, in a way. What better way to catch your prey if the prey came to you? Like a Venus Fly Trap. Just when the innocent victim thought she was safe, then SNAP, good-bye cruel world.
The moment they stepped outside, the warm and cozy atmosphere of the restaurant was shattered as a cool breeze swept by, scattering any last reminders and sending chilly fingers to pinch her cheeks. Beside her, Vlad tensed and Mia knew that it wasn't because of the cold.
At first glance it appeared that is was only the two of them outside, but after a quick look Mia realised that that wasn't true. A little further away from them stood four men who were smoking and looking rather glum under the short canvas that offered little protection from the elements. Farther still a semi-truck parked for the night before the driver tumbled from the cab and started jogging towards the restaurant.
Somewhat assured by the lack of things jumping out from around the corners, Mia tugged on the leather of Vlad's coat, "Vlad?"
"Go ahead to the car," he said, his head tilted to the side as if he was listening for something. "I will join you in a moment."
"What-"she began to say, but the storm decided to interfere with her question and chose then to belch a procession of booms. The look Vlad gave her booked no alternatives, and sent her jogging to the car. The wind encouraged her by pressing against her back and ended up pushing her into her seat.
Looking back at the restaurant/gas station, Mia felt that she shouldn't be surprised that Vlad was no longer standing outside the door, but it did anyways.
Unnerved, Mia locked the doors. Just in case, she told herself. The howling wind scratched and rocked against the car, fraying Mia's already frazzled nerves, and sent unbidden scenarios through her mind. Cursing at her imagination, Mia pushed the thoughts of hook wielding murderers away. She was already in the presence of a murderer, one that could probably kick the ass of any other murderers, so she was safe… sort of.
The grind of a key in lock followed by the driver's door swinging open, startled Mia from her thoughts. Slowly, she let out her breath as Vlad slid into his seat. She hadn't even realised her had been holding her breath, but her slightly burning lungs told a different story.
He didn't seem any different, Mia mused as she watched Vlad start the engine. He must have gone to… eat. Mia shuddered, suddenly feeling ill. She really did not want to taste her meal a second time. Breathing deeply, Mia closed her eyes, resting her forehead on the cool glass of the window. Finally as her heat beat slowed, Mia chanced a second glance at her kidnapper.
Again, he looked the same; deathly pale, black haired pulled back, and a smirk twisting his lips. There was nothing to indicate that he had sucked someone's blood, he wasn't suddenly more 'alive looking' or doing cartwheels. Maybe she was wrong? Maybe he hadn't actually bitten someone, but had done something else like use the washroom. Did vampires even need to relieve themselves, Mia wondering with a puzzled frown. She couldn't really imagine why since they were technically dead and she had thought that meant that their internal organs no longer functioned, but then again, vampires weren't supposed to exist, so who knew.
Shrugging slightly to herself, she exhaled audibly, missing the curious look from Vlad as she settled further into her seat. There was still a long way to go, so she might as well be comfortable.
When Vlad suddenly pulled off to the side of the highway and cut the gas, Mia knew that something was wrong. The thick clouds in the sky blocked any and all of the moon's luminance and the highway was silent, creating a horrendous fantasy right in front of her eyes. With the little light that the car had created gone, Mia felt blind, and as each second ticked by, she became aware of how fragile she was.
"Vlad?" Mia whispered, wishing that her nervousness wasn't so apparent in her voice.
"It seems that I have underestimated them." Vlad said after a moment, a pensive yet pleased smile decorating his lips. Not that Mia could see that.
"Underestimate who?" Mia was confused. Was someone following them? Sudden hope flared in her chest, maybe she would be rescued after all.
Levelling a sideways glance at the woman beside her, Vlad said, "Don't expect any help from them. They won't be offering anything that you would want."
"What do you mean? Who are they?'
"Hunters," he said with a silent laugh. "They are a resilient group, if anything."
Hunters, Mia thought with a frown, could this get anymore surreal? "You mean like vampire hunters?"
Vlad shrugged out of his jacket before throwing it into the backseat, startling her with his sudden movements. "Yes and no. They hunt other things too, looking to purge the earth of Lucifer's children." Vlad sneered, obviously not pleased with their goal.
"…Other things?" The thick darkness outside the car suddenly seemed so much more real. Clenching her hands in her lap, Mia couldn't help but shudder at the implications of his words. While Vlad was proof of the existence of vampires, it really hadn't sunken in that he wasn't the only one. How many creatures like Vlad roamed the streets? There must be enough if there were actually hunters looking for these creatures to destroy. And it wasn't just vampires either, there were other things. Suddenly Mia didn't think her mom was so crazy after all. If vampires existed, who was to say that her mom wasn't actually psychic?
Vlad's eyes never left Mia during her inner dialogue, watching her as she finally realised the world was so much more than she had thought. When her brown eyes met his green, he said, "Normally I would play with them a little longer, but I'm not the main concern at the moment."
Confused, Mia shook her head. "But you said they aren't going to help me."
"They're not," he grinned, "they want to kill you."