Sherbet said, "A minute or two after stepping into the room, the nurses heard what sounded like an explosion. When they rushed in to investigate, the boy was gone and the window was broken."
I was speechless. Beyond speechless. I couldn't formulate words. All I wanted to do was run to my son again and check on him, to hold him close and protect him forever.
What the hell was happening?
"For the love of God, Sam, what's going on?"
"I don't know, Detective, I swear – " I stopped when a disturbing image came to mind. "What did the man look like?"
"Tall. Caucasian. Dressed in slacks and a blazer. A blue blazer – Sam, what's wrong?"
"Just go on," I said. I had braced myself against the wall. Although I had little use for my lungs, they suddenly felt constricted, as if an anaconda had curled around my chest and was squeezing, squeezing. "Was he wearing anything else?"
Detective Sherbet was watching me closely.
"A bow tie," he said.
"What do you know, Sam? Dammit, what the hell's going on here?"
"He was following me today."
"Who was following you today?"
"The man with the bow tie."
Sherbet blinked. "If he was following you, then why in the devil would he kidnap the boy?"
"The man was after Anthony, I think."
"Sweet Jesus, Sam."
"And got the wrong boy. He was just a few minutes too late."
"Why would he want your son?"
"He's trying to get to me."
"Who's trying to get to you?"
"I don't know."
"Who is he?"
"I don't know."
"Why does he want you?"
That I did know. Or, at least, I suspected I knew. "I have something he wants."
"Who is he, Sam? And dammit, don't tell me you don't know. You know something. I can feel it. You're holding back and now is not the time to hold back. There's a sick little boy out there who needs immediate medical attention, who's terrified and possibly hurt."
Sherbet had a son of his own, about the same age as Anthony, in fact. I thought about how Sherbet had been such a good friend to me. I also thought about how he was so close to the truth. To my secret. I looked into his eyes now. His desperate and wild eyes. I thought about the little missing boy – a missing boy that was supposed to have been Anthony. My heart broke for him and his family, and I realized that my secret could be a secret no more. At least not with Detective Sherbet.
"Can we talk somewhere more private?"
"No, Sam. We talk here."
He didn't like it. "Fine," he said. "We'll talk in my squad car."
His squad car was an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria, and he was parked in a handicapped spot directly in front of the hospital. The car was immaculate, as I suspected it would be. Not even a wadded-up bag of donuts, which I half expected to find.
As he slid in, he clicked the doors locked. "It's just me and you, kiddo," he said. "Now talk."
"I have an artifact," I started. "A very valuable artifact for some people. I suspect that whoever took the boy wants this artifact. No doubt he thought he was taking my son."
"Ransom," said Sherbet. He hadn't taken his eyes off me.
"That's what I'm thinking."
"And the man in the bow tie?"
"I have no idea who he is."
"But he was following you?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I think so."
Sherbet absorbed these strange details silently, his fine investigative mind sorting them out mentally, labeling them and filing them in his mental file folders. "What's the artifact, Samantha?"
Sherbet was staring at me. I could hear his heart beating steadily, strongly. Sherbet smelled of aftershave and potatoes.
I took a deep breath, held it, and looked my friend in the eye. Sherbet returned my stare, his eyes wide and hungry, searching for information.
"Please, Samantha," he said. "Talk to me."
I continued staring at him, and finally came to a decision. I said, "I'm not what you think I am, Detective."
"What the devil does that mean, Sam?"
"When I was attacked six years ago, I was changed forever."
"No shit, Sam. An attack like that would change any – "
"That's not what I meant, Detective. It changed me in a physical sense. In an eternal sense, too."
"Eternal? What the devil are you talking – wait. Good God, you're not telling you're one of those were-thingies?"
I smiled despite the seriousness of the situation. "No, Detective. I'm a vampire."READ MORE >>