Chapter 24: Haru’s Room & Mother’s Alone
We were still lying on the porch deck, Haru over top of me, his dreamy, dark eyes peering into my own, when I heard someone coming up the porch steps.
“Hmm, looks like someone forgot to sweep off the porch this evening,” a deep voice said. “I’ll need to fire the maid for sure.”
Haru grinned and turned his head to the intruder of our privacy. “Hello Uncle,” he said.
I was a little embarrassed and tried to hide my face. Mr. Tomoko laughed.
“No need to hide, young lady. I know who you are. He won’t shut up about you no matter how much I plead him to stop.” He leaned down towards us and grinned. In his arms, he held two bags of groceries. “I would ask you two to help me with these, but I can see you’re otherwise busy. Well, never mind, stay prostrate as you like. The air is probably livelier down there anyway.”
As he opened the back door and went inside, he shook his head and muttered something mirthful to himself. Haru shook his head, too.
“Tomoko has a certain sense of humor. It may take you awhile to get used to it.”
I smiled. “It’s okay. I like it. Should we go help?”
Haru got up from his prone position and helped me to my feet. “He probably doesn’t need it, but we can be civil. What I wanted to show you is inside anyway.”
In the kitchen, Uncle Tomoko had set the bags on the dining table. Coming through the back door, we both proceeded to unload the groceries so he could put them up. From the looks of things, everything had its place. Tomoko ran a tight, organized kitchen.
“Do you really have a maid?”
The older man laughed. “Miss Williams, no maid would be able to take our brand of madness for long. But don’t think we haven’t considered it. You interested?”
I had to laugh. “I can’t even keep my own room clean.”
“Well then. Looks like you and Haru are a perfect match, because his room looks like a cyclone touched down.”
“You’re just too much of a clean freak, uncle,” Haru jibed.
“There is nothing wrong with order. Everything has its place in the world, and that should reflect itself in the home as well.”
“Okay, I get it,” Haru said, “I’ll go clean my room.” He turned to me. “You want to help?”
I smiled. “Sure, why not?” In that moment, I felt like we were typical teenagers, rather than a centuries old vampire and his human girlfriend.
We left Tomoko in the kitchen and moved through the house. If I was expecting sparse furnishings, I was wrong. It could have been a show house, one of those places you find in homes magazines. It reminded me of a trip around the world with stops in Egypt, France, England, and of course, Japan. Everywhere you looked, there was something representing a different country. This was not a gothic vampire house, this was a suburban castle of a world traveler.
We went up the main staircase, a twisting set of steps whose balustrade was decorated in black and gold silk ribbons. My hand tried to grasp the railing, but slipped on the slick material.
“Sorry,” he said. “Left overs from our housewarming party.”
I wanted to ask him where all the party goers had come from if they had just moved in. And why had the Trumps been there, yet the girl next door hadn’t been invited.
As always, he seemed to know where my thoughts lie. “I’m sorry we didn’t invite your family,” he said. “We’d been told you were vampire hunters. That wasn’t quite the atmosphere my uncles wanted.”
I understood. Yes, it kind of hurt, but I would have done the same thing in his shoes, not knowing who I really was at that point.
“If we had the party today, you’d be at the top of the list, trust me.”
“And the Trumps?”
He smirked. “Oh well, it was Ryo who wanted them to come. He saw them outside Amanda’s house when we arrived in town. They got the first invite, even before a party was even planned.”
I tried not to be jealous. The idea of him at the same party with The Trumps was enough to make me glad Chi had broken Amanda’s nose.
“Hey, you’re here with me now, not them.”
He kissed me on the cheek, and we paused outside his bedroom door.
“You’re my girl, Nora. No one else. Just you.”
And then he opened the door.
His room wasn’t at all what I expected. If I was thinking it would be painted black with pinups of Vampirella, Bloodrayne, or Alice Cullen I was mistaken. And it didn’t have the appearance of a teenage boy’s room, either. At first glance, it looked more like a template for a hotel room. Sparse and generic, it held a bed, dresser, mirror on the wall, and a small, open closet. A divider ran through the back half of the room, separating it from a toilet and shower. The simple furnishings helped remind me that though he had the look of a teenage boy, Haru had lived hundreds of years. I imagine having to follow the latest, ever changing trends for that long would get old. Trying to keep up with what kids found popular would be maddening, so instead he had settled for a room that reflected none of those flighty things.
He did, however, have a wall mounted television, under which sat a shelf of DVD’s and Blu-Ray discs. A quick perusal gave me insight to his various interests and likes. As he had already told me, he had the Suspiria movie, in several editions, as well as other Italian horror films. I hadn’t heard of any of them, but the covers looked quite terrifying. On the American side of things, he had foregone Twilight and Vampire Diaries for American Horror Story and the original Dark Shadows, a black and white TV show dad had gotten me hooked on when I was little. From Japan, he had a small collection of ghost story movies, like Ringu and Ju-On. Despite his apparent love of horror, which endeared me to him even more, a few movies in his collection looked out of place: The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink. When I raised an eyebrow and looked at him, he just shrugged and said, “Ducky should have got the girl.”
I didn’t see any computers or laptops around, and the only decorations on the wall were two framed photographs, one of a creepy looking forest, the other of a woman in white sleeping on top of a mausoleum. There were no rock and roll posters, girly pinups, or any other things a young man would have in his room. There wasn’t even a stereo, as far as I could tell, though I did notice a small clock radio on an end table at his bedside.
The bed was small, made for only a single occupant, and I imagined if I ever slept over here, one of us would have to sleep on top of the other. I didn’t mind such a thought, and almost told him so, but decided to keep it to myself until the time came.
We ordered in pizza, and I used Haru’s cell to call Angela. She didn’t answer, but I figured she didn’t recognize the number. If I’d used mine, she might not have answered either after our argument the night before.
My boyfriend was sympathetic. “I’ll go over and check on her in a minute. That’s if she is even with Ryo.”
I smiled and gave him a quick kiss. “Okay, thank you. I won’t lie. I’m still worried, even though you said he wouldn’t turn her.”
“I know. It will be okay.” He put his hands on my hips. “Come here.”
I let him draw me close. As his lips met mine, I swore I heard singing from somewhere in the house. The lilting voice seemed to be butchering an Adele song in wonderful ways. It was a nice serenade, and with Haru’s mouth on mine, my fingers fumbling with the removal of his shirt, we fell back on the bed. I half expected an explosion of roses to erupt from the mattress, as Rolling In The Deep became Tearing Up The Sheets.
An hour later, we lay in bed, the covers tossed about us, clothes laying on the floor. He cradled me in one arm. His free hand played with my hair, as if he were fascinated with every strand on my head. He leaned close and breathed me in. He sighed as if he had just caught a whiff of grandma’s freshly baked Christmas cookies. I had to smile. It was wonderful having a boy make over me like this. All the little moments a girl dreams of, all the things she wishes a boy to be, it was right here in this bed, where space was so tight the only thing keeping me on the mattress was Haru’s strong arm around me.
“This is perfect,” I whispered.
“Yes, it is,” he agreed, nibbling at my ear. “Is it wrong that I want you all the time?”
“No, it’s not,” I answered with confidence. After all, I had been asking myself the same thing. We had been making love like a brush fire out of control. Our lovemaking was intense and often, as if today was all we had. I think we both knew we would have to slow it down soon, but right now it was fresh, exciting, and we were so insatiable for each other we couldn’t stand it. To not be able to touch Haru, or to feel his body next to mine, was now my biggest fear. I wanted him all the time and was not ashamed.
“I just want to make sure this isn’t too much, too soon, too fast. I love you and don’t want to chase you away.”
“You couldn’t chase me off if you tried. I would stalk you.”
He laughed. “My stalker. I like that.”
I kissed him and threw my bare leg over his thighs. I lay my head on his chest and breathed in his scent. I was going to hate going back to school tomorrow. It was the last week until summer break, but I really didn’t….
A loud knock on the door startled me from my contentment and thoughts. Disappointed at the interruption, it got worse when the person didn’t wait for an answer but just barged on in.
Chinatsu was dressed all in black. Tight fitting spandex and high turtleneck. Hair pinned back. She looked like a ninja assassin in a Marvel comic book. She didn’t seem surprised to find us in bed together, but instead got straight to the point for her interruption.
“We have a problem.”
Haru sat up, while I remained under the covers. “What’s wrong?”
She looked at me, then back at him. “I’m not sure this is a public matter. If we could speak in private.”
“You can speak in front of Nora.”
“Are you sure?”
This was the first time Chi had seemed to be wary of involving me in their world, and Haru looked to me for confirmation of trust, as well. I nodded to reassure him it wouldn’t be spread beyond the room.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Haru replied. “Go ahead.”
“Okay.” She didn’t seem comfortable of this, but she came out with it anyway. “There’s been a vampire attack.”
“Here in Chelsea Valley?”
“The custodian at the high school was the first victim it looks like. Happened last night sometime. Trail of bodies through town, heading out to the highway and beyond. We don’t know how far the trail leads. Luhan sent me back for you and Ryo. We don’t know how many we’re dealing with.”
“How many bodies so far?”
“Seven. I’m sure there’s more. No apparent connections. Looks pretty random. Just people in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Haru got out of bed. His state of undress didn’t faze Chi.
“I’ll wait outside,“ she said. She stepped back through the doorway and then stopped. “I know parting is such sweet sorrow, but make it a quick goodbye.”
When she was gone, I came out from under the covers. Haru was almost dressed by the time my feet touched the floor. “You can stay here if you like,” he said. “You’ll be protected under this roof.”
“Can I go with you? Maybe I can help identify…”
“It’s too dangerous. You need to stay here until we know what’s going on.”
I knew there was no point in arguing, no matter how bad I wanted to be part of their clan. The truth of the matter was that I’m human. I would be a distraction and a liability. My fear alone would alter the playing field.
“What about mom? She’ll be by herself.”
“You can bring her over here, “ he answered.
“She’ll want to know why.”
“You can’t tell her. If she won’t come, let my uncles know. They can keep a watch on the house.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
He stepped towards me and I threw myself into his arms. “Please be careful. I just found you.”
“And I found you, love.”
His kiss was soft and tender that my worried brain told me this could be our last kiss ever.
“There will be many more,” he whispered, as if he were in my head seeing all those fears. “I am forever and always yours. I will always return from the hunt.”
“Is that what this is?”
He shook his head. “No. This isn’t a hunt. It’s something else. I’m just not sure what.”
He smiled and kissed me again. “I will.” And then he was out the door, leaving me standing there , fearing for not only his safety, but my own.
I sat in his room for a little bit, perched on the edge of his bed, debating on what to do. I knew I couldn’t follow them; there was no way I’d be able to keep up. But to stay here holed up inside the vampire’s suburban fortress wasn’t much of an option either. Not while mom was next door alone and unprotected. I still had dad’s vampire slaying kit in my closet if I needed it, but mom would be clueless how to react in the event of a bloodsucker home invasion.
I looked around Haru’s room. Once he had gone it seemed devoid of anything, like a blank canvas in which the painter forgot how to even mix the paints. It was as if Haru had been the very thing that brought life to the bleak surroundings, and without him it was more like a crypt than a bedroom. The stifling atmosphere was too much, so I got up and left the room.
The rest of the house seemed just as lonely. I could still hear singing coming from somewhere within the house, but it was softer now. There was no sign of the vampire uncles, but I didn’t feel I was alone. They were here somewhere. I thought of calling out a goodbye to let them know I was leaving, but I figured they already knew, so I left by the back door and crossed the yard towards my house.
I looked across the street to the Winston house. All looked quiet over there. I assumed Ryo had taken off with Haru and Chi, and so now the house looked the way it used to in the days before Mrs. Winston was turned into a vampire. It was crazy how so much had changed in just a short amount of time. The vampire boys had arrived, and with them had come a whole new world. Before, my worries had been about being bullied, passing grades, and what new rumors about me were being spread. Now my head was filled with new, different series of worries. Were we under a vampire attack? How long would I have with Haru before he moved on or I wasted away from age? What was mom going to think when she found out not only was I having sex, but I was having it with a vampire?
With that thought, my mind returned to home and mother. She was by herself, and somewhere vampires were killing people. I had to get in there and be ready to protect my family if need be. It would be the thing my father would do if he were here. And since he was locked up, it was up to me to step up and be the ‘man’ of the house.
I walked up the porch and opened the front door. It was quiet in the house, which was not that unusual, as mom preferred silence when she was drinking, cooking dinner, or trying to sleep. She didn’t watch television much, but did keep the stereo turned on in the living room. Usually it was just set on a local radio station and turned down low as a whisper, but now there was dead silence.
I walked into the kitchen. “Mom,” I called out, thinking that was where she would be, but the room was empty. A half eaten plate of food sat on the counter, as well as an empty glass. I bent down and took a whiff. Rum and Coke.
I left the kitchen and went back out into the hallway. I hesitated at the stairs, figuring what I would find if I went up to her room. Mom passed out on her bed, or drinking in the tub, most likely. I took a deep breath and started up the steps. That’s when I heard it. A quiet sobbing underneath the silence. Was mom crying? Had she gotten so drunk now it was time for a sobfest? She wasn’t one who got that way much when drinking, but I had seen it on occasion after an argument with myself or dad.
On the landing, I paused. The sobbing wasn’t right. It was louder now, going from sniffles and sad moans to a loud anguished wail, as if someone was being tortured to their very soul. I bolted down the hallway. For a brief moment, I considered stopping at my room to retrieve the stake from the vampire slaying kit, but there wasn’t time. The cacophony of pain was increasing, and if there was an enemy vampire in my mom’s room I was going to have to take it on bare handed.
I burst into the room. Mom was on her bed, her face red, tears streaming down her face. I cast my gaze back and forth across the length of the room, looking for the invader, but I saw no one. Perhaps he had fled, scared off by footsteps or her screaming.
“Where is he?” I cried out, running to my mom’s side to protect her in case the vampire charged from the shadows.
Mom looked up at me, horror and devastation in her eyes. “He’s dead.”
Before she answered I knew. There was no vampire in her room. Her wails had not been born of physical pain, but the deepest emotional loss.
“Your father,” she cried. “Your father is dead.”
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.