Nancy stood and stretched. “Forgive me; I had a strenuous workout yesterday, and I’m a little stiff.” She glanced around the cafe and gasped. “There’s a vampire in here right now.”
“Where?” Kathryn said, looking around the cafe.
“He’s at the end of the bar on your right, in the maroon jacket with the black trim.”
Kathryn casually looked over in that direction. He was a young man, wearing rather old-fashioned clothes, but they just made him look more handsome. He turned his head suddenly and smiled at her, and she blushed and looked away. “Who is he, and what does he have to do with Forgotten Hollow’s history?”
“His name is Caleb Vatore; he and his sister, Lilith, live in a nice, two-story house across the street from the park. They’ve only been there the last hundred years or so. No one knows where they came from. They just showed up one day and Vlad took them in. They’re nicer than Vlad, if you can consider any vampire ‘nice’,” Nancy said dismissively.
“You don’t like them much,” Kathryn said.
“I don’t like them at all,” she retorted. “They almost wiped out my entire family during the Great Vampire War in the late 1800s. But everyone who fought on the mortal side, as the vampires call us, took out more of them than they did of us.”
“How did the war start?”
“According to the books that have been written about it, Oleta, the daughter of Levi Willow, who was the mayor of Willow Creek, disappeared one night. She had gone to a church meeting with the family, but had stayed behind for a music lesson with the church organist. Between the church and her house, she just vanished. All they found was her Bible and her hat. The search went on for three days, but they couldn’t find her anywhere.”
“How awful!” Kathryn said.
“On the fourth day, she appeared in front of her parents’ house. Her family was overjoyed that she had returned, but at the same time, scandalized. It wasn’t proper for a young woman to go off by herself back then. When they asked her where she had been, she said that she had no idea. The last thing she remembered was seeing a man in a top hat on her way home. The man had smiled, tipped his hat to her, and offered to escort her home. He told her it was too dangerous for a young woman to be walking alone after dark. She thanked him for the offer, but politely declined. After that, she didn’t remember a thing until she found herself standing in front of her house four days later.”
“She was kidnapped?”
Nancy nodded. “Yes, by Vladislaus’ father, Dmitri. It would be three weeks before anyone would learn what had happened to her that night. They found her by the Willow Creek stream with Philemon Freeman, her beau. That in itself was scandalous enough. It was the two marks in his neck that made everyone realize the mayor’s daughter had been kidnapped by the vampires from Forgotten Hollow.”
“You mean Dmitri turned her into one of them?”
“Yes. Dmitri had seen her walking home that fateful night from church and had taken her to claim as his own. It amused him to return her to the mayor, who had been trying to run the vampires out of the area for years. Unfortunately, Dmitri failed to teach Oleta how to control her blood lust, and she took too much from poor Philemon. He died in her arms by the creek. They found her there, his blood dripping from her mouth. Before he could be stopped, Levi grabbed a long stick and staked his daughter in the heart, killing her.”
“I can’t imagine doing that to one of my children,” Kathryn said sadly.
“The next day, it was war.”