Patty was picking up the soiled towel and washcloths in the bathroom while Ruby hung the bag of levofloxacin on an IV pole next to Lord Andrei’s wheelchair and then connected it to the PICC line in his left arm.
“This will run for an hour and then I can disconnect you from it,” Ruby said as she checked the flow rate.
Lord Andrei watched Ruby closely as she programmed the IV pump attached to the flimsy pole that the infusion company had sent. Then, with the same gruff voice he had battered Patty with while she showered him, he said, “How long do I have to be on that stuff?”
“Only fourteen days,” Ruby said, walking to the cardboard box to get the supplies she needed to dress the wound on his foot.
“You mean I have to put up with the both of you for two long weeks?” He craned his neck to glimpse at Patty who had walked out of the bathroom with a laundry basket.
“You’ll hate to see us leave,” Patty said, sounding cheerful as she began stripping his bed.
“I doubt that,” he said, looking down at his bare foot.
“How long is your contract, Ruby?” Patty asked, walking to get the clean linens that Mrs. Reinhardt had placed on top of the dresser the day before.
Ruby did not want to say because she knew Lord Andrei would complain, but she was sure Lady Beth had told him and that he had probably just forgotten. “It says six months.”
Lord Andrei slammed a fist down onto the arm of the wheelchair. “We’ll see about that.”
Ruby placed a waterproof pad under Lord Andrei’s foot and knelt to the floor to measure and clean the ulcer. “Doctor Booker will be out to visit on Wednesday; I saw it in his notes.”
Lord Andrei did not say anything more while he watched Ruby’s every move. Then, when he was apparently satisfied with Ruby’s care, he said, “When you two nurses are done messing with me, what are you going to do, sit in your room on your asses all day?”
Ruby looked up at Patty who had finished making his bed.
Patty rolled her eyes, knowing he could not see her because his back was toward her. “We are at your beck and call, Lord Andrei.”
Ruby stayed focused on the old man’s infected lesion, that was eating away the skin. It was bad, she was surprised they did not keep him in the hospital to treat it. But on the other hand, she envisioned him demanding to the doctors and nurses that he return home. “Did you check your blood sugar this morning?”
“If you had done your job and checked the log sitting on the table, you would have seen it.”
Patty stepped over the green oxygen tubing attached to the concentrator next to the wall and walked to the small notebook sitting on the end table next to his bed. She opened it. After examining it for a minute she handed it to him. “It’s hard to read your handwriting.”
He refused to take it. “I don’t need to read it; I know what it says. It was ninety; it’s fine. You people are only here to take care of my foot, nothing else. When your job is done, you leave.”
I can’t wait, Ruby thought, as she taped the dressing and placed the walking boot on his foot. “There, I’m done. I’ll be back to check on your IV in a little while.”
“I’m finished, too,” Patty said, now standing in front of Lord Andrei. “Is there anything you need before we go?”
Lord Andrei turned his wheelchair away from them so that he was looking out the window toward Castle Moldovan. “Close the door on your way out.”
Ruby and Patty walked out of the room and closed the door behind them.
“I’m going to my room and get some charting done,” Ruby said. “Are you coming with me?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to be too far away from him when he rings that buzzer.”
The hallway was quiet as they walked past the staircase to Ruby’s room. In fact, the whole mansion was still. Aside from a few taps and clicks, probably from the building settling, it was as though they were the only ones inside the massive building.
Ruby left the bedroom door partway open and sat at the desk with her work laptop, while Patty wondered around the bedchamber, examining its exorbitant contents.
“Wow, I like your digs better than mine,” Patty said. Then she took a book from the tote she had brought and settled into the wingback chair next to the fireplace. She looked out the window at the medieval Gothic cathedral. “All except that view of that creepy castle and the smell of . . . garlic.”
Ruby typed in her password to unlock the computer charting program. “At least you’re outside the wall and not locked up behind it like I am.”
“Good point,” Patty said. “But why does your room stink? The rest of the house doesn’t smell like that.”
Ruby opened the desk drawer where she had put the items of protection that Ethel had given her. “This is going to sound weird, but Ethel, a woman from The Feathered Peacock, gave them to me because of the strange things happening on the island. She said they will protect me from . . . vampires.”
She looked at Patty, expecting her to burst out laughing, but instead the paperback romance novel slipped from her hand and smacked the floor. Her jovial disposition disappeared as a look of horror spread over her face.
“Are you okay, Patty?”
Patty stood up and promptly closed the drapes, sealing off any view of the old monastery. She began to pace the room. “I heard there were vampires on this island before I came here, but I was desperate for money. I knew about the missing people, but it wasn’t until they found a woman, dead on the beach, with two holes in her neck that I got scared. Really scared.”
Ruby’s fear ratcheted up a notch. “When was that and what beach?”
“I heard it on the radio in the cottage this morning. They said a body of a young woman had washed up on Sand Castle Beach and that she had two peculiar wounds in her neck.”
“I know what you’re thinking; that a vampire caused them. But something else could have made the wounds,” Ruby said, trying to calm Patty down. She was afraid Patty was about to run out of the house, leaving her there alone to tend to Lord Andrei. “Why do they think they were caused by a vampire?”
“Because they said she had no blood in her body, it was totally sucked out of her.”
Ruby was ready to join Patty’s nervous pacing. “Where is Sand Castle Beach?”
Patty stopped and pointed toward the window. “It’s the beach next to that castle . . . right next to us.”
If what Patty was saying was true and not an exaggeration, it still did not mean it was caused by a vampire. Nonetheless, Ruby reached into the drawer and took out the bundles of garlic and slid her desk chair in front of the door. With garlic and pushpins in hand, she stood on the chair and secured one of the bundles over the door. “Wanna help me?”
“If this is what it takes to keep us safe, you have my full cooperation.” Patty slid the wingback chair to the window and the two of them secured all entry points to the room.
“I hope Lady Beth doesn’t come in here,” Ruby said, hanging the last bunch. “She’ll think I’m crazy as a loon.”
“I doubt the Lady of the House will come in here, it will more likely be the maid,” Patty said, sliding the armchair back to its original position. “But maybe Mrs. Reinhardt already knows about vampires.”
Then Ruby heard what sounded like Lord Andrei’s bedroom door open and close. “Mrs. Reinhardt must have gotten the laundry.”
They both walked to the door and pulled it open enough to peer out. Down the hall, walking to the forbidden west wing, was someone dressed in a black hooded monk’s robe.
“What the hell?” Patty whispered. “Who is that?”
“I don’t know, I never saw him before,” Ruby said quietly. “He looks like a monk.”
“I thought that monastery was closed down decades ago,” Patty said.
“Obviously, there’s still some monks there,” Ruby said. “But why are they visiting Lord Andrei?”
“Have you been down that wing before,” Patty asked, turning to look at Ruby.
“No, I’m not supposed to go down there. It’s one of those forbidden places of the mansion.”
“Why is it forbidden?”
“Because I think it goes to the inner ward where the monks used to live.”
“Used to live?” Patty said, raising her eyebrows. “I don’t think they all moved out.”