Taken Teaser

September 30

       
     
      The elevator adjacent to Emily's desk opened revealing a striking young man standing well over six foot tall, skin the color of dark chocolate and a shiny bald head that reflected the overhead light like polished marble. Every inch of his perfectly sculpted body caused women’s insides to quiver.
        "Draco, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Emily knew his story all too well. Nearly a decade of sleepless nights brought the loners together on a level many individuals never find in their short lives. Despite how close they’d become, the office was a place of formal interaction.
        "You know the drill Emily. Francesca will explain." Emily could tell from Draco's rigid stance and stone cracking stare that Francesca did not have good news, or worse news than the typical meeting at the very least. The doors slid back exposing dozens of artistic representation of The Histories; some clearly centuries old, others still shimmering with wet paint. A set of French doors framed the glorious library sheltered within.
        The size of the library always astounded Emily. The first time she was summoned by Francesca, she wondered if there could possibly be another single building in the world with so many books. The walls, reaching 50 feet tall at the peak, were set with massive mahogany shelving units. Eloquently carved into the wood itself were what appeared to be demon faces, their mouths gaping in their tortured silent scream.
        If an avid reader were to tire of the endless miles of book ridden shelves, the glass cases sprinkling the center of the room held disintegrating vellum manuscripts and crumbling etched stones.    Draco’s frigid hand on the small of her back pushed her toward the wrinkled man ahead.
        "Madame Francesca awaits," he snapped. In the beginning, Emily awed at the fact that such an old man could walk the stance of a younger generation. He looked to be at least eighty years old but held himself as a teen would. Mentioning this to Draco had caused a snicker. He was eighty about a century ago.
        Stifling a laugh as she remembered that moment helped to loosen the tension as James led them across the threshold into the library. "Madame, Sir Draco has brought Ms. Emily."
        "Show him in, James." Francesca's radiant red wonderfully complimented the dark mahogany and blackened bronze fixtures of the library. It was almost as if she herself had been designed as an accent to the room. Emily was still amazed by the books covering every surface of the room. Spilling from shelves. Stacked high on end tables. She even spotted a pile on the floor behind the sofa. 
        Francesca was eloquently propped in one of many carved mahogany high back chairs that looked as though it had been lifted straight from the Osborne House. "Emily, how nice to see you. How are the children?" Francesca asked with an unusual twinkle in her eye.
        "Oh, fine thank you,” she responded. Her heart sunk when she thought of Lestat’s family portrait hanging in the atrium.
        Emily, accustomed to Francesca’s threatening demeanor, brushed off the underlying connotation. The Stone Queen had never cared much for children. Her only purpose was to ensure Emily remembered where the power lies.
        "I have a surveillance task for you in northeastern Pennsylvania. The movers are packing your house as we speak. Further information can be found in the files." Francesca opened a hidden drawer in the table and withdrew a manila envelope about two inches thick. Emily focused her attention it as it slid across the desk in an attempt to mask her astonishment.
        “An intern awaits training for your position. Please give her the best training you can in the next few hours. You will find she is quite capable as I recruited her myself." Emily thought she saw traces of a smile tickle the corners of Francesca’s ruby red lips.
        "Yes, Madame." Emily was slightly confused as to why Francesca suddenly exerted such effort to place a menial vampire employee into the company's ambiguous and often frightening affairs without any formal surveillance training.
        "Draco, see Emily to her desk and return with Jean Claude," she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
        "Yes, Madame."
        Draco ushered Emily out. "The kids aren't going to take this well and I understand your worry. Would you like me to come home with you? I can help buffer the blow and two against three is much better odds than one on three,” he whispered.
        "Actually Draco, if Madame Francesca will allow you to transfer, even temporarily that would be great. You know how the kids feel about you and it would be the perfect distraction."
        "I would hate to distract you. Concentration can be difficult when the mind is elsewhere, like on my model physique."
        Draco's charm was difficult to ignore. Luckily for her, the elevator opened to reveal a rather young lady sitting in Emily's chair. She was stunning in a black pants suit with pink pinstripes, her sunset toned hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail leaving her pale blue eyes as the focal point of her being. Her innocent youth created quite an ironic contrast to her dark surroundings. "Oh and the intern is human."
        "I will see you tonight?"
        "Yes." With that Emily spun around to greet the intern, whose hand was already extended in anticipation. Emily briefly it and spun an adjacent chair to her desk. "Well Tatum. This job is actually pretty fun, kinda like a scavenger hunt." Emily grabbed a folder from the stack and dropped it on the desk.
        "Let's start with Felipe Castillo last seen in Mexico City in 2005. We happen to have a bit more information in his report than the typical case. He was born in the Kingdom of Castile. What do you think the file means by born?"
        "In my indoc class, we were told that vampires refer to their birth as the day their transformation is complete."
        "Great. Now, refer to the database on the desktop." Emily sat patiently as her replacement navigated through her computer in search of the file. "Sort by surname. Highlight the block of Castillo’s and paste it in a new window. Sort by birthdate."
        "Why do we copy and paste into a new window as opposed to sorting by two columns?"
        "I prefer it this way for convenience and orderliness. Once we navigate as far as possible toward Mr. Castillo's current situation, we will save it into a separate file for reference if his name should ever resurface. Otherwise, we may have to retrace our steps and waste pertinent time in any sort of emergency.
        “Notice there's an entire block of Castillos created on the Iberian Peninsula between 1383 and 1385. What does that mean to you with respect to Felipe Castillo?"
        "It is quite possible he was taken the same time as the others.” Tatum paused to click the mouse a few times before saying, “I think he’s running for his life. Looking at the termination dates, most of the Castillos have been destroyed, though none since 2004. This tells me he has been placed next in line, and he seems to know it."
        "Great work. What brought you to the Confederation?" Tatum had kindled an avid curiosity and fear in Emily.
        "Actually, I am in my final semester at NYU, graduating with a BA in Criminology in December. I happened to stumble upon an internship for a fugitive tracer in the want ads last month and thought it would be interesting. Once I complete my coursework, I will be given two weeks to say good-bye to my family and friends after which Madame Francesca will transform me." Tatum had the spark of a young woman with endless opportunities. Emily's heart sank with sadness at everything Tatum was forfeiting in life.
        "Alright, so we turn to Google." Within seconds, Tatum had typed Castillo Conflict and found quite a bit of literature from the last few centuries outlining the family conflict between the Castillo family and an unnamed group in central South America, roughly centered in the deep rainforests of Brazil.
        "I didn't realize how incredibly helpful my minor in Spanish would be in this line of work. It appears an entire village was slaughtered in Bolivia last week. Locals report signs that a pack of wild animals slit the throats of 39 natives, leaving the carcasses to rot." Emily sat back and watched Tatum work her magic.
        Around 3:30, Emily passed all her contact information along and bid Tatum farewell. Before she reached the rotating front doors, Draco materialized at her side. "I have been assigned to stay with you until you and your children are settled. I informed Madame Francesca that could take weeks, so she pulled some strings and I am now working out of the Scranton House."
        "Wait! So, you're going to live with us? Shouldn't you have cleared that with me first? What will the kids think? How will I explain that?"
        "Calm yourself, Emily. The house is extremely large. The kids will think their favorite Uncle Draco is there to help Mom settle in. They will never see you sneak over to my room at night. If you remember, they sleep." Draco replied allowing Emily to forget the earlier conversation in the elevator.
        "Very funny, Draco. You know the rules. We cannot go down that road."
        "Yes, I know. Cab, love?"
        "No. You go to the store and get dinner. I need to be there before they get home. The movers are going to send them into a tizzy." Draco hailed a cab and Emily made the short trip across the river, but not before the kids returned home from school.