Ruby sat in the upholstered wingback chair, looking out the west window of her bedchamber toward Castle Moldovan. The sun had dropped below the horizon and the sky was dark, making the dim flickering lights in the windows of the north tower visible. Just as Ethel had said, the old monastery was indeed inhabited. She would ask about that tomorrow when she saw either Mrs. Reinhardt or Lady Beth.
Then Ruby turned her attention to the objects that Ethel had given her to ward off vampires. A large crucifix—four inches long—on a chain to be worn around the neck. Bunches of fresh garlic—tied with a loop—for hanging over doors and windows. A pocket-sized plastic bottle of holy water to be carried about when needed. The only thing missing, that Ruby could tell, was a stake cut from the wood of a hawthorn or ash tree, to be used for driving through a vampire’s heart. But she was sure Ethel had access to one of those, if there was ever a need for it.
This whole thing was ridiculous. She was sitting in her bedroom, reeking of garlic. If Lady Beth, or anyone else in the mansion, caught the stench oozing from her room and into the hallway, they would likely terminate the contract. Ethel had told her to wear a garlic necklace by weaving parts of the plant into an attractive choker, but Ruby saw no reason to get that carried away with the whole vampire myth that was running rampant through Maryville.
First of all, even though Draven and his friends looked like the vampires she had seen in movies—Interview with the Vampire, not an ugly fanged creature—could they really be the walking dead? Even though Draven frightened her and made her uneasy, he also somehow seemed familiar to her. Realistically, it was an overactive imagination getting the best of her.
Ruby put the items of protection back in the store’s plastic bag and sat it on the desk next to her charging cell phone. She had called Tabitha when she first got back to the room. Even though it was Saturday evening, her daughter was reading a book on literary theory for the summer session of the English literature degree she was working toward. Ruby talked about the new job and the mansion she was living in. She even snapped a picture of her room and sent it to Tabitha’s e-mail. Tabitha talked about her class and how it was a rather dry way to spend the summer. Other than that, she was happy to report that she and her husband, Ed, were still working on having a baby and that she was keeping her fingers crossed that this may be the lucky time. She would keep her mother informed.
Ruby walked to the majestic canopy bed and turned down the blankets. It looked so soft and comfortable; she could not wait to slip between the silky sheets. Running a hand along the bright white linens, she could tell they were more expensive than the ones she bought for her own bed. Even with the stink of garlic in the room, a floral scent floated up from the bedsheets.
Time for bed, Ruby said, walking to the window to draw the drapes closed. But as she began pulling them shut, the castle light caught her attention, once again. She saw the movement of someone looking out the window directly at her. But it was far away and she could not be sure. Then that feeling came over her again, the one she felt when she had met Draven. That strange, unexplainable sensation that was just like déjà vu. Something was happening to her, but she had no idea what it could be. It scared her, whatever it was.
Fighting the urge to stay transfixed on the person in the tower, she yanked the curtain closed and backed away from the window.