Well packing up and leaving my life behind sounded easy, but let me tell you that it wasn’t. I pretty much knew that my sister and my mother would try to find me. I figured the best I could do to disappear was head off to a foreign country.
How hard could it be? My great great grandfather, or whatever, had made a living as an explorer, right?
Right, but Gramps had something I didn’t have when he went on his adventures…money.
I traded on my mother’s fame at first, but that credit only went so far.
Pretty soon I wasn’t really welcome in any of the shops.
“This not free book,” the book seller yanked the magazine I was reading right out of my hand. “You pay or go library!”
The girl at the general shop wasn’t much better. She thought it was great to be helping a celebrity’s daughter at first, but not when I didn’t have a thing to pay her with.
“No, no. You no use credit card here. Is expired. I can call Jeri Fields and settle bill…?”
Of course I didn’t want her calling in Mother Dearest. I would need to think of something else.
No, I did not sell myself into white slavery! I found out that people would actually pay you to go down into tombs to find things for them. Relics and whatnot. That’s how Charlie Fields made his cash, so that’s what I did.
Relic hunting paid the bills and I was able to keep people from finding me. I’d foiled my sister’s attempts more than once. I should never have taught her how to hack a computer!
I knew that I wasn’t going to stay in China forever. I had plans for my life. I needed to contact Jean-Paul and convince him to run away with me, too. But before I left, there was something I really needed to do. I had to get one of the locals to teach me Martial Arts.
The girl, Wei Li, didn’t like me much. But she was good at her job. I didn’t care if she liked me as long as I learned. I’d find someone else to continue my training. But for what I had planned, I needed to be able to take care of myself.
But things were getting a bit cagey for me in China. I would have to leave soon. The jackal paparazzi had discovered me and had started following me. I knew that word would reach Twinbrook and then Glenna and my mom would find me.
I figured I had no time to spare and nothing to lose. I called Jean-Paul.
“Jean-Paul? It’s Candice.”
“Candy! Where the heck have you been? The cops and your sister have been looking for you everywhere. When they gave up, she kept going. Where are you?”
“I’m in China,” I said. I saw no reason to lie. I planned on leaving soon anyway.
“Are you coming back?”
“No. That’s the thing I was calling about. I was wondering if…”
“Well, if you’d like to go somewhere with me. You know. Just the two of us. Start our lives somewhere new. Tell no one.”
He just had to agree. I didn’t want to go back to Twinbrook, but I didn’t want to endure a life without JP. He was my ticket to eternity. I’d eventually go back for Glenna, but only when I knew I was safe forever.
“I’m no longer in Twinbrook,” Jean-Paul surprised me by saying. It took me a minute for his words to register.
“Yeah. My mom died.”
“That’s terrible,” I said. I hadn’t known his mom well. She was human, that’s all I knew.
“Dad didn’t want to go on living when she died. I almost lost him, too. I didn’t want to be an orphan, so I convinced him to start over again somewhere else. A lot of vampires do that when they outlive the people around them.”
I could almost hear JP shrug. He didn’t seem that upset about his mom’s death.
“Are you…” I stammered. “I mean, did you…?” I tried to frame my request in a polite way and couldn’t come up with one. So I just blurted it out. “Are you a vampire, too? A full one?”
JP laughed. “Yes. Of course. I told you it would happen when I became an adult.” JP couldn’t see the fist pumping I was doing. The first step of my plan was in action.
“Where are you, JP? Can I come and live with you?”
“Like roommates?” He seemed hesitant. He had to agree. Had to.
“Sure. Will your dad mind?”
“Guess not. We’re in Barnacle Bay.” Where?
In the end it didn’t matter where JP was. I would have gone anywhere. So what if I was heading to who the hell knew where? It was away from Twinbrook. So my plan wouldn’t be as grand as it could have been if he’d been in Bridgeport or Los Angeros or Sim City. So what?
I got on the next flight back and then took a cab to the address JP had given me for his new residence in Barnacle Bay.
I don’t think I could have predicted what sort of place JP and his dad, Royce, would pick to settle in. But I certainly never would have picked a sunny little beach resort which used historical pirate references to bolster its tourist economy.
Their house was in the middle of a perfectly lovely little neighborhood complete with a view of the beach. It was 80% windows, which I thought was strange for two vampires.
“The sun only burns a little if we stay out too long. We both appreciate the view of the daylight. Most of that vampire stuff ,you know, is a myth.”
“I know. And thank goodness you don’t sparkle! I’d stake you myself.” Jean-Paul and I both laughed. We’d been trading variations of that joke since we were kids.
Of course both Royce and JP were stronger in the dark than they did during the day. After we caught up and I avoided really explaining why I’d run away and why I didn’t want to go back home, the guys took me out to Waylan’s Haunt. Jean-Paul wanted to show me a good time, but I was more interested in Royce, who said he wanted to do some hunting.
“Dad! We have perfectly good plasma fruit!”
“Boring, son. I was off the vein most of the years I was with your mother. Now that she’s gone, I am feeling a bit nibble-y.”
“But not in front of Candice,” JP hissed at his father. I just laughed.
“Don’t worry about me, Royce. I know that vampires drink blood. Both of you can drink whatever you like. I wouldn’t mind if you needed some of mine.” I held out my wrist and both men inhaled, but neither sampled.
“Let’s just go,” JP dragged us both out to the dive bar where I got quite an education in how vampires lure their prey.
The girl’s name was Flora Fleet. I’m not sure she’ll even remember going to the bar that night.
When we finally came home, JP and I were like we’d always been growing up. I had always regretted how things ended between us. That idiot Pascal got in the way. JP hadn’t understood at the time, but he seemed over it now.
Sitting under the stars on the front porch, he finally asked me why I left.
“You were so mad at me, you know? I thought we’d be together but since Lila came, you were distant.”
“You had a child with another man.”
“I know. It was a mistake. It was like I was living a life that wasn’t mine. The girl, my parents, everyone wanted me to be someone I couldn’t be. I had to leave. Glenna was more Lila’s mother than me. It should never have happened.”
“So you ran.”
“I did. You aren’t going to make me go back, are you?” I don’t know what I’d have done if he’d insisted that I go back and face my responsibilities. I wouldn’t have gone. I would have figured out another way to have the eternity I wanted. But instead he just looked at me.
“It’s probably wrong to keep you here, but I don’t care. So what! That life is over now and you’re here.”
“I’m here and I want to be with you,” I said sincerely. Being with him was always part of the plan.
We stood up. “You want to be with me in every way?” He grabbed my face tenderly.
“Yes,” I nodded.
“Look into my eyes,” he whispered and I was transfixed. I watched as his face lowered toward mine, but he wasn’t going to kiss me on the mouth. He took just a little nip out of the side of my neck. I felt the fangs puncture my skin and a draw on my essence and then his head lifted.
“That was just the first taste. Come with me.” At that point I couldn’t have denied him anything. I registered that he had tremendous power over me, but I didn’t even want to say no. I wanted his power. I wanted him.
I woke the next day surprisingly invigorated. I thought I’d feel a bit weaker. As I drank a fortifying glass of orange juice, I realized that I would need to take some measures to prevent anyone in this town from recognizing me like they had in China. A short jaunt to the salon was in order.
Royce was the first to see my new look.
“I like the shorter hair,” he said, “but the turquoise dye is over the top.”
“Good thing it’s not your hair. No one would recognize the old Candice with this hair. The red was just too much of a give away.”
But the hair would not be enough to disguise me and keep my family from finding me. Glenna was a smart girl. She could see through hair dye. I’d need my ID to be changed.
“Let me take care of that,” JP suggested. He and Royce had new ID’s for themselves, too. They had taken on the name Kendrick.
“How’d you get new IDs?” I asked.
“Easy. You find out that the mayor is a corrupt old bag, discover one of her dirtier secrets, and then blackmail her.” JP and Royce both laughed. I joined in.
So I became Candy Buckets. “Why the hell do I get such a stupid name?” I demanded when JP gave me my new ID. Royce was laughing hysterically. “Told you she’d hate it,” the older vampire said.
“It’s a movie reference to Willy Wonka!” JP seemed hurt that I didn’t like my new name.
“Why couldn’t I be Candy Kendrick?”
“Because then I couldn’t do this!” He grabbed me and kissed me with a hell of a lot more passion than a brother should kiss a sister.
It really didn’t take me long to settle into my new life with JP. Since we’d already established fake identities for ourselves and were blackmailing a corrupt city official, it seemed only natural that we slide into life on the darker side of this little tourist trap.
This had been my plan all along. I wasn’t going to be content to just while away my time catching rays on the beach. Step one to gaining the power of eternity was to move in with JP and make him love me. Step two work my way into a position of power and authority. Step three get JP to change me. Step four have all the power for myself.
I didn’t expect JP to have such an evil streak in him. I thought all of this would be harder. “You used to not be so devious,” I observed one evening.
“Oh, I was. I just hid it better. I have no reason to hide now. I’m not trying to be the perfect pre-vampire son. And I don’t need to be the sweet neighbor boy to the famous Fields family.”
“I like it that you’re evil.”
“Just like you.”
“Hi. I’m here to get a tattoo.” I looked around nervously, trying not to notice the multiple marks on the girl’s arms.
“Great! I’m Sunwon Cho. What sort of tattoo are we doing?”
“It’s a tribute to my sister. A turquoise heart with her name.”
“I’m sorry about your sister’s loss. When did she die?” I tried not to move as the girl applied the first strokes of her paint gun. I winced as the needles pierced my skin.
“No. She’s not dead. She’s just missing. This tattoo is my promise to never give up looking for her.”
“You don’t think she’s dead?”
“No. I know she’s not. I have a lead on her whereabouts.”
“She was in China. She tried to use an old credit card there. It’s just a matter of time before I find her.”
We chatted about Candice for awhile and I found myself telling Sunwon a lot more about myself than I thought I would.
“There you go,” she said when she was finished. “Good luck finding your sister. I’d love to meet your niece some time.”
“Lila’s great,” I said. I got up and looked at the turquoise heart in the mirror. “You’d like her. She’s a bit too young for a tat,” I laughed and Sunwon chuckled, too.
“Thanks,” I said. “It’s been really great meeting you. I haven’t really talked to anyone about all of this…I didn’t have many friends besides Candy.”
“Feel free to call me whenever you need to,” Sunwon said. “Or stop by. Maybe you’ll want more ink someday.”
“Maybe when I’ve found Candy.”
I left the shop feeling lighter and more hopeful than I had since Candice had left. I knew I’d find her.