Chapter 8

Before entering my Beverly Hills house, I search the street and the surrounding houses for signs of anyone watching. The FBI's methods are not unfamil?iar to me. The house appears unwatched. Once in?side, I gather the supplies I need to turn Eric into a serious anemic. But before leaving I stop to call Seymour. I haven't spoken to him since I said good night in the hotel by the beach. Even the note I left said little.

Sorry, Seymour. Got to go. You know this is for the best. Love, Sita.

"Hello?" he says.

"It's me."

He takes a long time to answer. His voice comes out harsh. "What do you want?"

I speak with sincerity. "Just to hear your voice, Seymour. I miss you."

"Yeah, right."

"I do. I really do."

"Where are you?"

"I can't tell you."

"I have to go."

"No! Wait! You know why I can't tell you."

"No, I don't know why. I thought you were my friend. Friends don't leave each other in the middle of the night." He lowers his voice and there is pain in it. "Why did you leave?"

I hesitate. I didn't plan to tell him.

"Ray's come back."

Seymour is astounded. "That's impossible."

"It's true. We're living together." I add, "We've got a daughter."

"Sita, what kind of fool do you think I am? You haven't had time to have a daughter."

My voice cracks. "I know that. But this one came rather fast."

He hears that I'm serious. "Tell me everything that's happened since I last saw you."

So I tell him because I need someone to talk to. As always he listens patiently, closely, and I have to wonder what insights he will provide when I'm fin?ished. He's so smart--he always has something inter?esting to say about my numerous predicaments. Yet the next words out of his mouth shock me.

"Why do you assume this guy is Ray?" he asks when I finish.

I have to laugh, although I almost choke on it.

"What kind of question is that? Of course it's Ray. I know it's Ray. Who else could it be?"

"I don't know who else it could be. But how do you know it's Ray? Remember, he died."

"Because he looks like Ray. He acts like Ray. He knows everything Ray knew. He can't be an im?postor."

Seymour speaks calmly. "Let's take each of your statements. He looks like Ray you say. OK, I grant you that because you've seen him and I haven't. But you say he acts like Ray? I don't think so. The Ray you describe isn't the Ray I remember."

"He's been through a lot. In a sense, he died during the blast It was only Eddie's blood that brought him back to life."

"That worries me right there. Eddie was the incar?nation of evil. What would his blood do to someone's psyche? Even the psyche of another vampire?"

I close my eyes and sigh. "I've worried about that myself. But please believe me, he can't be an impostor. Dozens of times we've discussed things only Ray and I knew."

"But you do accept you're dealing with a guy that has his priorities twisted?"

"Am I? I've asked myself that question many times. When you get right down to it, I would do anything to save Kalika. Ray's her father. Is he so different from me?"

"I don't know. There's something in your story-- something I can't put my finger on. I think Ray's dangerous, and I'd keep an eye on him. But let's leave that for a moment. Let's talk about Kalika. How can she be a vampire and not be sensitive to the sun?"

"I wasn't that sensitive," I say.

"Because you'd been a vampire for over five thou?sand years. And still the sun did bother you; it sapped your strength. You say it doesn't affect her at all?"

"Not as far as I can tell. She plays out in it."

"Does she make any effort to move into the shade?"

"No. She likes the sun as much as the moon."

"Yet she wants human blood," Seymour muttered, thinking aloud. "Hmm. Is she exceptionally strong?"

"Yes. Pretty strong. She must be a vampire." Seymour considers. "What does she look like?"

"A lot like me, except her features are darker."

"You mean she has brown hair, brown eyes?"

"Her hair is brown, but her eyes are a dark blue." I add painfully, "She's very pretty. You'd like her."

"Not if she wants to drink my blood. Sita, let's be frank with each other. You're not superhuman any?more. You're not going to be able to go around abducting people without getting caught. As far as I can tell, you were lucky with this Eric guy. And how are you going to let him go when you're through with him? He'll go straight to the police."

I bite my lower lip and taste the blood. The flavor gives me no strength. "I know," I say.

"If you know then you've got to stop now." There are tears pooled in my eyes but I won't shed them. Not tonight. "I can't, Seymour. Ray's right about one thing. I can't let her die."

Seymour speaks gently. "You know what I'm going to ask next."

I nod weakly. "Yes. Does the world need a monster like her? All I can say is, I'm hoping she turns out all right. For godsakes, she was just born. She hasn't had a chance to show what she's like."

"But by the time she does, it might be too late. You might not be able to stop her." He adds carefully, "But you can stop her now."

I'm aghast "I can't murder my own daughter!"

"You can stop feeding her. Think what those feedings will cost you and your victims. You'll need a dozen Erics to keep her satisfied if she's growing at the rate you say. In fact, she'll be getting her own Erics soon enough. I know this is painful for you to face, but you should probably end it now."

I shake my head vigorously. "I can't do that."

Seymour is sympathetic. "But then I can't help you." He adds, "Unless you tell me where you are."

"It won't help for you to see her. "You'll just fall in love with her. When she's not hungry, she's really very lovely."

"I was thinking I'd like to speak to this new and improved Ray."

"I don't think that's a good idea. Not now."

Seymour speaks with feeling. "You've trusted me in the past, Sita. Trust me now. You're too close to this. You can't see what's real. You need me."

"It's too dangerous, Seymour. If something happened to you, I'd never forgive myself. Stay where you are, I'll call you again. And I'll think about what you've said."

"Thinking won't stop her from growing into what she really is."

"I suppose we'll see what that is soon enough." We exchange goodbyes. As I leave the house, I think of Eddie Fender's blood circulating in my lover's body. And I wonder what blood pumps through Kalika's veins. What it is capable of doing.

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